UNH Faculty, Staff Must Take COVID-19 Vaccination
All UNH staff and faculty who work on the Durham campus will be required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 thanks to federal regulations.
While Gov. Chris Sununu is a vocal supporter of the COVID-19 vaccine state law prohibits a COVID-19 vaccine mandate from being implemented to access public facilities or receive benefits or services.
As a result UNH does not have a COVID-19 vaccination mandate in place. The school does have a mask mandate in place for all indoor areas of all campuses.
In this case, however, federal law apparently trumps state law.
The federal government now requires organizations with government contracts to mandate their employees prove they are fully vaccinated which includes UNH because of $130 million the school receives in research funding, according to UNH president James Dean.
Dean said the federal mandate includes student employees who work on the Durham campus.
"After a detailed review of interactions on the Durham campus, we cannot find a way to exclude any group of employees," Dean said.
The schools is still assessing whether or not the mandate will affect the Manchester campus, law school and extension sites across the state
Those affected by the policy must report their status by December 8, according to Dean, which means those who have not taken the vaccine will have the next two weeks to get their first jab.
Anyone who has reported their status to UNH's COVID site does not need to do anything more.
"The good news is that the overwhelming majority of our university community has already told us that they are vaccinated, so this new requirement affects a relatively small number of employees and student employees. Thank you in advance for your help with this new requirement," Dean said.
Those affected by the mandate will be able to apply for a religious or health exemption. Dean did not say in his message what action will be taken by the school against those who do not comply with the mandate.
State Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut said he not pleased at the situation UNH found itself in.
"I am deeply disappointed that UNH was put in a very difficult and untenable situation with unwarranted pressure from its federal partners. This pressured overreach requiring the implementation of a vaccine mandate was unnecessary and unproductive in our efforts to keep our communities safe," Edelblut said in a statement.
Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNH