IDAHO FALLS (KIFI) - The Idaho National Laboratory updated its employees on its response to COVID-19 and vaccination requirements.
INL Director John Wagner updated employees on vaccination rates and future plans with a memo Wednesday.
“I am happy to report that 99% of our staff is either vaccinated against COVID-19 or has an accommodation in place. That number will reach 100% as we approach final vaccination deadlines for our represented employees.”
While federal vaccine mandates are temporally on hold, the Idaho National Lab has its own vaccine requirement that went into effect on Nov. 19. This requirement has been criticized by many throughout the community and has led to dozens of resignations. Local News 8’s Rachel Fabbi spoke with a longtime employee who even applied for a religious exemption but was denied.
While INL couldn't give an exact number of how many employees no longer work there, they called it "a small percentage."
“I know there are rumors in the community about the number of employees who left the lab because of the COVID-19 workplace safety policies. Here's the truth: We estimate that fewer than 100 staff members left the laboratory because of the vaccine requirement. We do not know the exact number because employees leave for many reasons, including retirement,” Wagner said in the memo.
Wagner also added that employees who left as a result of the vaccination requirement were not terminated and could be rehired if they received the COVID-19 vaccine.
“This was a difficult choice for many. I appreciate these employees' contributions to our laboratory and respect their decision. At the same time, I am grateful to the vast majority of our staff, who chose to get vaccinated and continue supporting our mission,” he said.