All faculty and staff of Haskell Indian Nations University must get the COVID-19 vaccine under a federal mandate issued Thursday.
The mandate, signed by Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, gives a deadline of Oct. 15 for all who work at Bureau of Indian Education-operated schools to get both doses of the Pfizer or Moderna shots, or the single-dose Johnson & Johnson shot.
“The Department recognizes that education plays a critical role in promoting equity in learning and health, particularly for Indigenous communities that have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19,” a news release on the mandate said. “Today’s actions are in line with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations that educational institutions take action to provide for the vaccination of all teachers and staff, in addition to other mitigation measures, such as masks and social distancing.”
The mandate doesn’t specifically mention colleges or universities, but a spokesperson for the Department of Interior confirmed Friday that it applies to faculty and staff of Haskell.
Those who are unable to get the vaccine because of an Americans with Disabilities Act-covered disability or “sincerely held religious belief, practice, or observance may be entitled to a reasonable accommodation that does not pose an undue hardship on BIE-operated schools.” Those who receive accommodations could be required to test for COVID regularly, according to the mandate.
The deadline essentially gives workers two weeks — until Friday, Sept. 15 — to get the first shot of Moderna, or three weeks to get the first shot of Pfizer, in order to receive both shots by the Friday, Oct. 15 deadline. Those who do not comply and do not receive approval for an accommodation could be subject to nonrenewal of their contracts or discharge, the mandate states.
“The United States has a direct interest in protecting American Indian and Alaska Native children, including their education, as part of its trust responsibility. This vaccination requirement will help ensure American Indian and Alaska Native students continue to safely receive the invaluable benefits afforded by the BIE‑operated schools,” the news release said.
Read the full vaccine mandate at this link.
The COVID-19 vaccine is free and no insurance is required to get it. Find out where to get it in Lawrence and Douglas County at this link.