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MU, KU, K-State and Wichita State paused their vaccine mandates after a federal court ruling

Matt Stamey
Wichita Journalism Collaborative

A federal judge issued an injunction to delay the implementation of a nationwide vaccine mandate covering federal contractors.

The University of Kansas, Wichita State University, Kansas State University and the University of Missouri suspended a COVID-19 vaccine requirement for employees following a court decision Tuesday in Georgia.

U.S. District Judge Stan Baker issued an injunction to halt the implementation of a nationwide vaccine mandate for employees of any business or university that has a contract with the federal government. Baker is an appointee of former President Donald Trump.

MU President Mun Choi cited the ruling in a statement to university employees late Tuesday afternoon saying the school has set aside its vaccine requirement for faculty, staff and student employees.

But he ended the letter saying "this is a fluid situation. If the federal contractor vaccination mandate comes back into effect, we will update you of changes to the policy."

Wichita State President Rick Muma said in a statement Tuesday that that university is still encouraging employees to get the vaccine, even if it’s not required.

“We have all become accustomed during this COVID-19 crisis to adapting and pivoting quickly when needed,” Muma said. “This is yet another example where our university community continues to demonstrate their commitment to compliance, the health and safety of our community, and adjusting when necessary.”

The injunction came after Republican leaders from seven states, including Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt, filed a lawsuit on Oct. 29 arguing that the vaccine mandate issued by President Joe Biden exceeded federal authority.

Schmidt, who is running for Kansas governor, praised the decision in a statement on Tuesday.

“Federal courts continue to recognize that these overreaching, one-size-fits-all mandates from the Biden administration are unlawful,” Schmidt said. “I continue to encourage Kansans to be vaccinated, but that personal health care decision should be made by each individual and not mandated by the federal government.”

The White House had not yet issued a statement about the court decision as of Tuesday afternoon.

The nationwide vaccine mandate would require millions of workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Jan. 4.

About 60% of people in the United States are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. State health officials say about 50% of all Kansans are vaccinated.

More than 788,000 people in the U.S. have died from COVID-19 since last year, including more than 6,700 in Kansas.
Copyright 2021 KMUW | NPR for Wichita. To see more, visit KMUW | NPR for Wichita.

The KCUR newsroom contributed to this report.

Daniel Caudill is a reporter for KMUW.
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