PIERRE, SD – South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem has issued an executive order cracking down on federal COVID-19 vaccine mandates that were handed down last month. It comes as calls continue for a special session over vaccine mandates in the South Dakota Legislature.
The order rebukes federal vaccines mandates by allowing federally-contracted state employees to make religious or medical exemptions from the federal vaccine mandate. State employees who wish to receive a medical exemption need a written statement from a physician. For a religious exemption, applicants must fill out a form that will be made available by the state Bureau of Human Resources.
“For months now, I have been very clear that I don’t believe the federal government or businesses should be mandating vaccines. And that we would challenge the federal government if they came out with language that was mandating vaccines to the states.” said Gov. Noem. “Our state has many contracts with the federal government, and President Biden is attempting to use those contracts to force state employees to be vaccinated against their will. My executive order will protect their rights to medical and religious exemptions under any federal vaccine mandates.”
The order however does not offer the same exceptions for South Dakota National Guard members, who must meet federal readiness responsibilities for deployment.