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Idaho joins lawsuit against federal COVID-19 vaccine mandate

Stock image of a shot vial being filled with a vaccine.
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Adobe Stock

Gov. Brad Little joined a multi-state lawsuit Friday to challenge President Joe Biden's COVID-19 vaccine mandate for federal workers. Little said the state's universities are at risk of losing millions of dollars in contracts if the mandate is enforced.

This lawsuit is spearheaded by Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and the state's attorney general Chris Carr. It asks a federal judge to block President Biden’s order requiring all federal workers and contractors to be fully vaccinated by Dec. 8.

At least 19 states have sued in different cases against the federal vaccine rules.

Little said the requirements would harm Idaho businesses that hold contracts with the federal government.

"It is just plain wrong," he said in a letter to Biden.

Little announced the Idaho State Board of Education is also a party on the lawsuit to represent Idaho's four-year universities. They could lose up to $89 million in federal contracts, much of it dedicated to research initiatives, if they don't comply with the federal vaccine requirements.

Matt Freeman, the executive director of the State Board of Education, decided Friday in consultation with the board's executive officers and the governor's office that the board should join the lawsuit.

In a special meeting Tuesday at 2 p.m. the State Board of Education will meet to ratify Freeman’s decision. The meeting will be live-streamed on the state board’s YouTube channel.

The Biden administration released additional guidance for its federal contractor vaccine mandate Monday, which gives contractors discretion in how to enforce the requirements.

55% of Idahoans eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine are fully vaccinated, compared to the federal rate of 68%.

Find reporter Rachel Cohen on Twitter @racheld_cohen

Copyright 2021 Boise State Public Radio

As the south-central Idaho reporter, I cover the Magic and Wood River valleys. I also enjoy writing about issues related to health and the environment.