Over 90% of nutrition workers got their shots by the deadline
Washington More than 90% of federal workers had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by President Joe Biden’s deadline set Monday.
Biden announced in September that more than 3.5 million federal workers are required to undergo vaccination, with no option for regular screenings instead, unless they receive an approved medical or religious exemption. A US official said the vast majority of federal workers have been fully vaccinated, and a smaller number have pending or approved exceptions to the mandate.
More than 95% of federal workers are complying with Biden’s mandate, the official said, either by vaccinating or requesting a waiver. Non-compliant workers are hired to begin a “counseling” process that may eventually lead to their termination if they do not receive a shot or an approved vaccination exemption insurance.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the statistics because the official was not authorized to speak formally before their official release later on Monday.
The deadline is a major test of Biden’s pressure to get people across the country to get vaccinated, as his administration has stressed that vaccination is the nation’s surest way out of the pandemic. In addition to the federal worker law, his administration is looking to force large companies to set requirements for vaccination or testing that would cover more than 84 million workers, although plans for enforcement in January were on hold pending litigation.
There has been significant concern about whether federal employees will follow the mandate, particularly in law enforcement and intelligence agencies where there has been vocal resistance, and among federal workers involved in the travel sector heading into the busy holiday travel season.
The White House says they don’t expect any federal disruptions from the mandate. In the FAA, 99% of employees comply with Biden’s order, in the Transportation Security Administration, 93% comply, and 98% of CBP workers comply.
On Wednesday, the Office of Management and Budget will release a breakdown of the agency’s compliance rates, the official said.
According to the official, nearly 25% of Internal Revenue Service employees began receiving the vaccination after Biden’s announcement, and 98% of his employees are now complying with the requirements.
Just about two weeks ago, Republican Representative Chris Stewart, a Utah Republican and a member of the House Intelligence Committee, said that as of late October, many intelligence agencies had at least 20% of their workforce unprotected. At about the same time, President of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association Larry Cosme said that there are about 31,000 members from 65 federal law enforcement agencies in the association and it is estimated that 60% of them have been vaccinated.
The White House is now aiming to use the federal vaccination mandate as a model for private companies to implement their own mandates even before Occupational Safety and Health Administration litigation is resolved.
Since Biden announced the first federal mandates earlier this summer, the number of unvaccinated Americans aged 12 or over has fallen from about 100 million to less than 60 million. Health officials stress that the vast majority of cases of serious illness and death from COVID-19 now occur among those who have not received a vaccine.
Writer Colin Long contributed to the Associated Press.
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