The University of South Carolina is imposing a Covid-19 vaccine mandate on hundreds of faculty and staff in response to U.S. president Joe Biden’s recent executive orders – requiring them to provide proof of their completed vaccinations against the virus no later than January 4, 2022.
In an email to faculty and staff sent earlier this week, the school’s interim vice president for research Julius Fridriksson and its vice president for human resources Caroline Agardy informed “all staff/ faculty” that they had to be “vaccinated by January 4, 2022 or face education, counseling or disciplinary action.”
“You are receiving this email because you have been identified as a potentially unvaccinated or partially vaccinated employee who falls into one of the following categories,” the school noted, referencing employees who work on federal contracts, employees who support work “in connection to” federal contracts or employees who “work in the same location” as employees who are working on federal contracts.
Pretty sweeping, huh?
“To comply with the executive order, you must complete the vaccination process or submit your request for a medical or religious exemption by January 4, 2022,” the letter continued.
Employees who “choose” to receive the vaccine developed by Moderna would be required to receive their first dose no later than December 7, 2021 and their second dose no later than January 4. Those who “choose” to receive the vaccine developed by Pfizer would be required to receive their first dose no later than December 14, 2021 and their second dose no later than January 4.
“Once you receive your final dose, you must upload an image of your completed vaccine card into MyHealthSpace no later than January 4, 2022,” the letter added.
Sheesh … Orwell much?
Those seeking “an exemption from this requirement for medical or religious reasons” must complete and return a form (.pdf) with “required attachments” to the school’s employee relations office no later than January 4.
The letter comes four weeks after the school announced it was “reviewing protocols already established at universities throughout the Southeast and nationwide.”
“We are taking a measured approach and are currently working to establish protocols regarding the executive order, including a determination of which employees may be covered by the vaccine requirement for federal contractors, as well as guidelines for potential impacted employees to apply for medical and/ or religious exemptions,” the school noted at the time.
School officials declined to comment on the mandate, referring me to their statement from four weeks ago. They did estimate that the mandate applied to approximately 1,700 faculty and staff members.
South Carolina’s latest mandate battle (the school won the right to impose a Covid-19 mask mandate back in August) comes as federal officials and their mainstream media mouthpieces are ramping up the fear related to the omicron variant of Covid-19.
The mandate also comes as state lawmakers are being pressed to respond to ongoing overreach from the Biden administration. In fact, the S.C. State House is hosting a pair of rallies this week as lawmakers return to Columbia, S.C. to address the issue of redistricting – a.k.a. the once-a-decade redrawing of the state’s political boundaries based on the latest population data from the U.S. Census.
“Biden’s gross overreach has explosive implications for South Carolina,” said Jennifer Black, an organizer of one of the two rallies. “We are a state that proudly supports our military, our defense and our education systems that utilize grants, and other supportive measures from the federal government to provide services to so many South Carolinians.”
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“While we feel that many of the lawsuits that are fighting these measures will ultimately win in the favor of liberty, it is not lost on any of us that this is being done at the same time middle class America is being squeezed out of every last dollar with rising inflation, rising energy costs and supply and demand upside down with no ability to course correct,” Black added. “Now our own federal government is pitting the employee against their employer and forcing them to make hard decisions on capitulating to tyranny or lose their job.”
It is not immediately clear whether lawmakers will address the Covid-19 mandates during their special session this week, but a bill (S. 177 ) that would ban vaccine mandates cleared the S.C. Senate back in April.
That legislation has been languishing in the S.C. House of Representatives ever since …
As I have frequently noted, I believe vaccines are safe and effective and that anyone medically able to receive them should do so. I have had both of my shots, and I have encouraged my readers to get theirs as well. Oh, and I have had Covid-19 at least once (and probably twice).
Having said that, though, I do not believe this personal choice should ever be made compulsory – nor should we seek to punish or shame anyone who makes a choice that is different from our own. Certainly, people should never be deprived of their livelihoods – individually or en masse – due to such unnecessary compulsion.
“I can’t believe we are even debating the issue as citizens of what is supposed to be a free country,” I noted in a recent post.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children. And yes, he has LOTS of hats (including that “We Are Family” Pittsburgh Pirates’ lid pictured above).
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