Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Continues to Deny COVID-19 Vaccine Exemptions

Meanwhile, Wright State University says it will provide “counseling and education” for employees who refuse vaccination
By Michael Sakal
Michael Sakal
Michael Sakal
Michael Sakal is an Epoch Times reporter who covers the state of Ohio.
January 7, 2022 Updated: January 9, 2022

The reins of authority over COVID-19 vaccination mandates seem as if they’re continuing to tighten from at least two major institutions in Dayton, Ohio.

Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, which is a key player in national security and employs about 32,000 people, is continuing to deny vaccine exemptions for many military members and defense contractors.

While about 30 percent, or slightly more than 10,000 workers at the base, have requested exemptions, thousands have been denied, according to information released by the facility’s Community Affairs Office.

The base has cited “military readiness” as the reason to deny vaccine exemption requests based on religion, freedom of choice, or otherwise.

Meanwhile, Wright State University has gone as far as to say it will provide “counseling and education” for employees who don’t get fully vaccinated or can’t provide proof they were by Jan. 4, or if they’re not showing a goodwill effort to do so if they’ve missed the deadline.

Whether the entities will be able to enforce the mandate is coming down to the wire as the U.S. Supreme Court last week heard President Joe Biden’s argument to move forward, through executive order, with vaccines for companies that employ 100 or more people as well as for federal workers. The mandate includes members of the military and federal contractors.

In November, the university announced that it was requiring anyone who receives a paycheck from the university to be fully vaccinated by Jan. 4. Wright State is among many universities throughout the United States requiring its workers to become fully vaccinated, although not with a booster shot.

Epoch Times Photo
Wright State University is requiring its workforce to be fully vaccinated. The deadline to do so was Jan. 4, but on Jan. 7, an official in its Human Resources Department couldn’t say what percent of its workers had met the deadline. (Courtesy Wright State University)

WSU has said it will address refusal to confirm vaccination status through existing, progressive disciplinary processes outlined in university policy and collective bargaining agreements, a university-issued statement said.

Now that the deadline has passed, university officials couldn’t be reached for comment, including its three-member communications division that provides media relations.

An official in Wright State’s human resources department had told The Epoch Times on Jan. 7 that they couldn’t speak on behalf of the university and didn’t immediately know the number of university employees. Nor did they know what percentage of employees were vaccinated or may have to leave their jobs.

Meanwhile, Biden’s mandates are continuing to be challenged on many fronts.

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost filed a lawsuit in November to block a vaccine mandate for employees of federal contractors, which could result in the release of dangerous detainees being held by Immigration and Customs Enforcement in county jails across the state.

“We have sheriffs that are going to lose a lot of talented deputies to this mandate, and they’ll ultimately give up their contracts to house ICE detainees rather than see that happen,” Yost said in a statement.

“Forcing that kind of choice on people who dedicate their lives to keeping our communities safe creates a needless situation in which everyone loses.”

The coalition of attorneys general filing the lawsuit says the potential workforce loss poses a significant threat to state economies, as it could exacerbate ongoing gaps in the supply chain.

The lawsuit filed by Geauga County Prosecutor Jim Flaiz and Sheriff Scott Hildenbrand, Seneca County Sheriff Fredrick Stevens, and the attorneys general of Kentucky and Tennessee, challenges the administration’s authority to mandate COVID-19 vaccines.

Sheriffs’ offices are not the only entities in Ohio with federal contracts, Yost pointed out, noting that the defense, higher education, medical, and shipping industries also have them, as well as the state government.

In the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for the eastern district, Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee maintain that the vaccine mandate is unconstitutional, in part because police power to enforce mandates falls within a state’s authority, and Congress didn’t give the president authority to issue such a broad mandate.

Federal contractors account for about a fifth of the labor force, Yost said, citing statistics from the Department of Labor.

“I’ve said it many times: the Biden administration may not do whatever it wants however it wants,” Yost said.

“The Constitution lays out critical rules by which the executive branch must operate. Congress and the states have their own powers, which the administration can’t just take over because it wants to.”

University employees at Wright State were informed they could confirm they are fully vaccinated by uploading an image of their federal vaccination card on Med+Proctor, a secure medical third-party website.

“The federal contractor executive order currently remains ‘in force,’ and the university must prepare to comply. Though the legal landscape may change in the future, we are announcing this policy shift to give employees time to plan and schedule their vaccinations.

“We will continue to monitor the lawsuits and we will notify the community promptly of any developments,” the statement added. “Absent further developments or communications, however, this policy change is firm.”

Michael Sakal is an Epoch Times reporter who covers the state of Ohio.