Thu, 28 Sep 2023

US reaches goal of 95% federal workers vaccinated by Nov. 22

Robert Besser
27 Nov 2021, 23:19 GMT+10

WASHINGTON D.C.: Some 95 percent of U.S. federal workers have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, or obtained an exemption, as of the November 22 deadline set by President Joe Biden.

In September, Biden announced that more than 3.5 million federal workers would be required to be vaccinated, with no option to be regularly tested, unless they obtain an approved medical or religious exemption.

An official said that a small number of employees have pending or approved exceptions to the mandate, adding that those who are not in compliance will start a "counseling" process that could result in their being terminated if they do not become vaccinated or obtain an approved exception.

The deadline is a key test of Biden's efforts to encourage people to become vaccinated, as well as to compel large businesses to institute vaccinate-or-testing requirements that would cover more than 84 million workers.

The mandate caused considerable concern over whether federal employees would comply in time, especially among law enforcement and intelligence agencies where there was vocal resistance, but the White House stated that no federal disruptions are expected due to the mandate.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, 99 percent of employees are in compliance with Biden's mandate, while at the Transportation Security Administration, 93 percent are in compliance, and among customs and border protection workers this figure is 98 percent.

The official said that on November 24, the Office of Management and Budget would release a breakdown of agency compliance rates.

According to an official, nearly 25 percent of the Internal Revenue Service's employees started becoming vaccinated after Biden's announcement, and 98 percent of its employees are now in compliance.

Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Chris Stewart, a Utah Republican who is a member of the House Intelligence Committee, said two weeks ago that several intelligence agencies had an unvaccinated workforce of 20 percent, as of late October.

Around the same period, about 60 percent of some 31,000 members of 65 federal law enforcement agencies in the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association were vaccinated, said its president Larry Cosme.

The White House now aims to use the federal vaccination mandate as a model for private businesses to implement their own mandates, even before a lawsuit against the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is resolved.

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