In this Aug. 24, 2020, file photo, the University of Maine black bear outside of Memorial Gym is decorated in a blue mask. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

All University of Maine System employees must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or obtain an exemption by Dec. 8 under new guidance that will keep the system in compliance with federal guidelines. 

The system — which includes its seven universities and law school — is considered a federal contractor and must comply with President Joe Biden’s executive order that requires employees of federal contractors to be either fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or qualify for a legally recognized exemption for medical or religious reasons, according to system spokesperson Dan Demeritt. 

The measure applies to all system employees, whether full- or part-time. That includes student employees and those working from home. Students faced a deadline earlier this month to prove they had been vaccinated or qualified for an exemption. Those who didn’t meet the deadline will be removed from their classes.

In a Thursday message to university system students and employees, Chancellor Dannel P. Malloy said more than 88 percent of system employees have already met the federal requirements. 

If the system does not come into 100 percent compliance, it could risk losing millions of dollars in federal grants and contracts. 

To be vaccinated by the deadline, employees must receive the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine by Nov. 24 or the first of two doses of the Pfizer vaccine by Nov. 3. Wednesday was the last day to begin the two-dose cycle of the Moderna vaccine, Malloy said.

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Sawyer Loftus

Sawyer Loftus is an investigative reporter at the Bangor Daily News. A graduate of the University of Vermont, Sawyer grew up in Vermont where he worked for Vermont Public Radio, The Burlington Free Press...