How well do government agencies follow the vaccine mandate for federal workers?


WASHINGTON – Nine out of ten federal employees have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine within the required deadline, the Biden administration announced Wednesday when it released agency-to-agency vaccination rates.

Those rates were up 97.8% at the Agency for International Development.

Agriculture Department workers have the lowest rate: 86.1%.

Federal employees will be able to get vaccinated until late Monday or request a medical or religious exemption. Unlike the rule that the Biden administration wants to impose on private employers, federal workers are not allowed to opt out of the vaccine if they agree to a weekly test.

According to the White House, workers who are not in the process of getting or being vaccinated begin “education and consultation sessions, followed by additional enforcement steps.”

Finally, non-compliant workers can be suspended and then fired.

The administration did not disclose how many workers sought medical or religious exemptions and how many received them.

In the Department of Veterans Affairs, for example, 98% of employees responded to the order in some way, and about 12% were not vaccinated.

That’s despite the fact that most VA employees had to meet past vaccination deadlines imposed on agencies’ health workers. Those employees must be vaccinated by October 8 or submit records by October 18 to support the exemption request.

The agency did not respond to a request for a number of health workers or asked for exemptions and the number of people who received them.

On Wednesday, the White House emphasized that 92% of all federal workers received at least one shot, and 96.5% received a shot or had a pending or approved exemption request.

The “compliance rate” of a shot or exempt request is 99% or more in several agencies: the Office of Personnel Management (99%); Department of Transportation (99.6%); Department of Commerce (99.4%); International Development Agency (99.1%); Small Business Administration (99.1%).

Agencies with compliance rates below 96% are: Department of Agriculture (95.6%); National Aeronautics and Space Administration (95.6%); The Environmental Protection Agency (95.3%); Homeland Security Department (95.1%); Social Security Administration (95%); And the Department of the Interior (94.7%).

In addition to the Department of Agriculture, other agencies with a vaccination rate of less than 90% are: Homeland Security Department (88.9%); Department of Justice (89.8%); Department of the Interior (88.3%); Veterans Affairs (87.8%); And the Social Security Administration (87.7%).

Separately, the White House announced Monday that 99% of those working in the president’s office have been vaccinated.

The administration said the vaccine order was being implemented without any hindrance to government services.

More:COVID-19 booster shots and progressive infections: Your questions are answered

In September, Biden announced a mandate for federal employees to fight the coronavirus epidemic and increase vaccination rates nationwide.

Biden ordered that federal workers and employees of government contractors be vaccinated. Government contractors are allowed to comply with the G4. Biden has ordered private employers who have 100 or more workers to have their employees fully vaccinated by January 4 or face a weekly COVID test.

A federal appeals court overturned the need for a vaccine for private employers two weeks ago after leadership in several conservative states and businesses sued. The case is likely to go to the US Supreme Court.

On Tuesday, the Biden administration asked the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals to remove the barrier “as soon as possible.”

Although the court said the requirement cannot continue when litigation proceeds, the administration wants to adjust the barrier so the rule can still preclude state and local bans on vaccination, testing or masking orders. It allows businesses to voluntarily impose requirements in the interim.

Since September, more than a dozen GOP-controlled legislatures have discussed bills that would weaken vaccine mandates, according to Stateline.

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The vaccine mandate for federal employees applies to all executive branch workers and employees of federal contractors. The order covers 90% of approximately 4 million federal workers but does not apply to non-executive branch employees, such as Congress or judicial employees.

Additionally, the mandate includes federal departments and agencies that have already begun to implement vaccine orders: military and other service members under the Department of Defense, Veterans Affairs, the Indian Health Service and the National Institutes of Health.

State and local government employees in 26 states, including teachers and school staff, are also covered by the Biden vaccine regulations. This includes workers in some states that have banned vaccination requirements for public employees, establishing another conflict between GOP-led states and the Democratic administration.

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