PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem has issued an executive order aimed at ensuring that state employees can easily obtain medical and religious exemptions from federal vaccine mandates.
Noem said Wednesday’s action was necessary to ensure that employees aren’t forced to get COVID-19 vaccinations under President Joe Biden’s initiative. The president’s order covers not only people directly paid by federal contracts but also anyone who works to support them.
State lawmakers have said South Dakotans are being denied medical and religious exemptions from the virus vaccinations and have called for a special session to stop it. Noem spokesman Jordan Overturf says Noem’s exemptions are “explicit and offer a clear path” for state workers to opt out of the shots.