AIKEN COUNTY, S.C. (WJBF) – Time is running out to vaccinate. Federal employees and contractors have a little over a month to get fully vaccinated.
Tuesday, it was a packed house at the Big Red Barn for a private meeting as many people voiced their resistance to the federal vaccine mandate. Many believe it is unconstitutional.
Lindsey Gentz, a representative from Aiken Citizens of Freedom, said, “We represent all the American citizens not just from the site but everybody who is facing having to be forced to inject themselves with an experimental medication.”
Several people who work at the Savannah River Site claim the powers that be are denying their exemptions from a coronavirus vaccine. Lindsey Gentz told NewsChannel 6’s Wes Cooper she used to work at SRS. She said employees with Savannah River Nuclear Solutions got an email from the President and CEO Tuesday.
Gentz explained, “That said that they denied all religious exemptions because it puts an undue hardship on the company. He didn’t elaborate to what that undue hardship was. It’s a bunch of malarky.”
According to Gentz, some medical exemptions have been accepted but not a lot. Under the latest vaccine guidelines, federal agencies can deny religious or medical exemptions if it is determined no other safety measurements are sufficient.
Congressman Joe Wilson who represents the area where SRS sent NewsChannel a statement that reads,
“Although many people, including myself, may be opposed to the Biden Administration announcement of a vaccine mandate for federal contractors and large businesses, these SRS contractors made the decision on their own accord. As a private entity, they possessed the legal right to create the guidelines for employment within their company.”
“That’s a private company and until there’s a federal rule on it they of course can do what they want to do. When a federal rule, if there is a federal rule and that comes down and as a contractor, I think the law will require them to comply,” said Governor Henry McMaster.
Gentz added, “We hope the site and all the other companies in this area and nationwide respect peoples’ medical and religious freedoms. And respect their right to choose, respect our constitutional rights.”
The time has passed for all federal employees and contractors to get their first shot of the Moderna vaccine to be fully vaccinated by the November 22nd deadline, but Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer vaccines are available to meet the requirement.
Read SRS’s full statement below:
The health and safety of the Site workforce continues to be the priority of SRS leadership and we continue to utilize all mitigation control options available to ensure the safety of our workforce. Vaccines provide us with the most effective tool to help ensure a safe work environment and better protect us from serious illness due to the virus. The Pfizer vaccine is currently offered on Site at SRS and other vaccines are readily available throughout the community.
The Biden administration issued Executive Order 14042 on Sept. 9, 2021, which mandates the vaccination of Federal Employees, to include Federal Contractors. Prior to the issuance of the Executive Order, prime contractors at SRS had already begun the process of mandating the COVID-19 vaccine. The decision to mandate vaccination as a condition of employment was reached based on scientific evidence concerning the vaccines effectiveness and guidance from the CDC. Exceptions to the requirement, such as a medical condition or religious exemption that prevents vaccination, are considered on a case by case basis.
Deadlines for full vaccination for the Site workforce as mandated by the Biden Administration are as follows:
• All Federal Employees Full Vaccination by Nov. 22, 2021
• All Federal Contractor Employees Full Vaccination by Dec. 8, 2021
Self-determined deadlines for full vaccination by SRS Prime Contractors
o Savannah River Nuclear Solutions Full Vaccination by Nov. 30, 2021
o Savannah River Remediation Full Vaccination by Nov. 30, 2021
o Battelle Savannah River Alliance Full Vaccination by Nov. 30, 2021