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University of Hawaii announces mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy

The University of Hawaii today announced that a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy for employees will go into effect on Jan. 3.

Under the new policy, all UH employees — including those that are teleworking — will be required to be fully vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus or receive an approved medical or religious exemption.

The UH Office of Human Resources sent an email to employees saying that the policy is based on the latest federal and state guidance and made in consultation with the UH President COVID-19 Team and the UH Health and Well-Being working group, made up of UH medical and public health experts.

Also, the office said the three unions representing UH employees were consulted.

Last month, UH also announced that students must be vaccinated against COVID-19 before registering for in-person or hybrid courses for the spring 2022 semester, which begins in early November. Students must also be fully vaccinated or have an approved exemption by Jan. 3 to be on a UH campus or property.

With an approved exemption, students not fully vaccinated will also have to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test prior to arriving at a university site.

Students who have not submitted their COVID-19 vaccine information or received a medical or religious exemption will only be able to register for online classes for the spring semester.

According to UH, the new employee policy states: “the COVID-19 vaccines currently available in the United States are highly effective at preventing COVID-19, as well as at preventing serious illness even in those who do contract COVID-19. A fully vaccinated campus community enables the best opportunity for a healthy return to high-quality face-to-face teaching, learning and research.”

Employees who receive an approved medical or religious exemption from COVID-19 vaccination will be required to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test, UH said — weekly for PCR tests and every three days for an antigen test.

Employees seeking medical or religious exemptions related to the COVID-19 Vaccination Policy should inquire about them from their human resources office.

“Employees who do not comply will be subject to progressive discipline, up to and including discharge,” said UH in the news release. “Those employees who are partially vaccinated as of January 3, 2022, will be required to provide a regular negative test result until two weeks after their final shot.”

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