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OSU's religious exemption on vaccine regulation

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Religious exemption forms for the COVID-19 federal executive order are different at some universities.

Oklahoma State is enforcing the vaccine requirement where federally contracted employees must have their final dose of either Pfizer or Moderna, or one dose of the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine by Jan. 4, 2022. 

The Biden administration announced the order in an effort to get more Americans vaccinated and lessen the impact of the pandemic. This mandate will apply to all OSU employees in Stillwater, OSU-Tulsa and the Center for Health Sciences and the OSU extension. It also applies to student employees on campus.

OSU employees who cannot comply with the requirement for medical or religious reasons can fill out a form in the vaccine portal.

“The federal mandate does not require a specific religious exemption form. The form OSU is utilizing was developed in conjunction with the Office of Legal Counsel,” said OSU officials.

Oklahoma State’s religious exemption form is made up of of checking points to affirm their beliefs, observances or practices and then a signature confirmation. Once a religious exemption request is submitted, university officials said the Office of Equal Employment Opportunity will be the deciding factor on religious and the medical exemptions. 

Other universities such as the University of Oklahoma and Washington State University, have different exemption forms. OU requires individuals to provide a statement to give reasoning for requesting a religious exemption and an acknowledgement affirming the information to be true.

Employees at Oklahoma State who have submitted a religious or medical exemption may expect communication within five business days from the Office of Equal Opportunity, according to OSU’s FAQ list.

At the Nov. 9 faculty council meeting, Dr. Johnny Stephens, president of the OSU Center for Health Sciences said the university will using the policies in place. He said on Jan. 5, they will not be eliminating employment at that time. He said this is a point in time where they will work on additional education and corrective action plans.

news.ed@ocolly.com