Regents to evaluate federal vaccine mandate effect on Iowa’s public universities

It’s unclear how Biden’s sweeping vaccine mandate will affect Iowa’s public universities.


Lily Smith

Regent President Mike Richards listens during the state Board of Regents meeting at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls on Friday, November 15, 2018.

Caleb McCullough, Executive Editor

Following an announcement from President Joe Biden of a vaccine mandate for large employers, the state Board of Regents will evaluate the implications for Iowa’s public universities, spokesperson Josh Lehman said.

“As any federal rules or executive orders are issued, we will need time to review them to evaluate any impact on the public universities,” Lehman said in an email to The Daily Iowan.

Biden announced sweeping federal vaccine requirements for 100 million workers on Thursday. The mandate will require employees of businesses with more than 100 employees to be vaccinated or face regular COVID-19 testing. Other executive orders require most federal workers, federal contractors, and health care workers at facilities that receive Medicare and Medicaid funds to be vaccinated.

The University of Iowa employs thousands of people — to instruct students, service dining halls, and staff dozens of offices and campus buildings — including many students. University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, which receives Medicare and Medicaid funding, also employs thousands of people, according to its website.

UI Director of Media Relations Anne Bassett referred questions about the mandate to the regents.

The federal mandates are the most dramatic push in Biden’s effort to get Americans vaccinated, and they quickly drew the ire of Republican governors, including Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds.

“President Biden is taking dangerous and unprecedented steps to insert the federal government even further into our lives while dismissing the ability of Iowans and Americans to make healthcare decisions for themselves,” Reynolds wrote on Twitter.

The regents have not mandated vaccines or masks for students or employees at public universities. A law signed by Reynolds in May that prevented government agencies and private businesses from requiring proof of vaccination has been read by the regents as prohibiting a vaccine mandate.

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