One of West Virginia’s largest employers pushing back it’s vaccine mandate

Published: Oct. 26, 2021 at 6:25 PM EDT
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MORGANTOWN, W.Va (WDTV) - WVU Medicine is extending it’s deadline for employees to get vaccinated against covid-19.

President and CEO of WVU Health Systems Albert Wright says the extension will allow the health system to adjust for new federal regulations and state law as they will likely have conflicting directives.

When the mandate was announced in August, Wright said, “Federal law, including title VII and the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the West Virginia human rights act already required the employers to provide vaccination exemptions for employees with sincerely held religious beliefs or medical conditions that prevent them from receiving the vaccine.”

The governor recently signed a vaccine exemptions bill that includes provisions relating to religious and medical exemptions, as well as a natural immunity exemption.

“You know terminating people and everything, they needed some level of exemption and that was for medical reasons or religious reasons and I think that’s just following the constitution,” said West Virginia Governor Jim Justice.

Wright said the vaccine exemption bill recently passed by the state was “unexpected” and said the health system will “seek clarification on some parts of the new state law that are unclear or not widely recognized as sound practices by the medical and scientific communities.”

The vaccine exemption bill is set to go into effect January 1, 2022. According to wright, 95% of WVU Medicine employees are now “compliant” with the mandate, up from 65% when the mandate was announced in august.

Wright says “we expect both the CMS and OSHA regulations to include provisions related to medical and religious-based exemptions, as well as how employers must monitor or test employees who have received those exemptions.”

In addition to this new state law wright says the federal centers for Medicare and Medicaid services and osha are each expected to issue federal regulations in the coming weeks that will require all health care providers, as well as employers with more than 100 employees, to require employees be vaccinated against covid.

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