Some 95% of federal workers who fall under a Biden administration requirement that they receive the COVID-19 vaccine have complied with the mandate, the White House announced Monday.
More than 90% of federal workers will have received at least one dose of the vaccine by the end of the day, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters traveling with President Joe Biden on Air Force One. The executive office of the president already has reached a 99% vaccination rate, she said.
“Vaccine requirements work,” Psaki said.
Federal employees had until the end of Monday to get a least one dose of the vaccine or request a medical or religious exemption. Unlike private employers, they are not allowed to opt out of the vaccine mandate if they agree to weekly testing.
Biden announced the mandate for federal employees in September as part of his administration’s strategy to deal with the coronavirus pandemic and boost vaccination rates across the country.
Biden ordered that federal workers and employees of government contractors must be vaccinated. Government contractors have until Jan. 4 to comply. Biden also ordered private employers with 100 or more workers to ensure that their workforce is entirely vaccinated by Jan. 4 or face weekly COVID testing.
A federal appeals court put the vaccine requirement for private employers on hold two weeks ago after conservative states and businesses sued. The case is likely headed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The vaccine order for federal employees applies to all executive branch workers as well as all employees of federal contractors. The order covers about 90% of roughly 4 million federal workers but does not apply to non-executive branch employees such as members of Congress or judicial employees.
In addition, the order covers federal departments and agencies that have already started to implement vaccination mandates: the military and other service members under the Department of Defense, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Indian Health Service and the National Institutes of Health.
State and local government workers in 26 states, including teachers and school staff, also will be covered by the Biden vaccine rules. That includes workers in some states that have banned vaccination requirements for public employees, setting up another clash between GOP-led states and the Democratic administration.
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