WASHINGTON — Some 95% of federal workers covered under the Joe Biden administration’s requirement that they receive a COVID-19 vaccine have complied with the mandate, the White House announced Monday.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters traveling with President Joe Biden on Air Force One that more than 90% of federal employees would have received at least one dose of the vaccine by the end of the day. He added that the President’s Executive Office has already reached a 99% vaccination rate.
“The vaccine requirements work,” Saki said.
Federal workers had until the end of Monday to take at least one dose of the vaccine or to 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 mandates for federal employees in September as part of his administration’s strategy to tackle the coronavirus pandemic and boost vaccination rates nationwide.
Biden ordered that federal employees and employees of government contractors be vaccinated. Government contractors have until January 4 to comply. Biden also ordered private employers with 100 or more workers to ensure their workforce is fully vaccinated by January 4 or face weekly COVID testing.
A federal appeals court upheld the vaccine requirement for private employers. on hold two weeks ago Conservative states and businesses followed suit. The matter is likely to go to the US Supreme Court.
The Vaccine Order for Federal Employees applies to all executive branch employees as well as all employees of federal contractors. The order covers about 90% of the approximately 4 million federal employees, but does not apply to non-executive branch employees such as members of Congress or the judicial staff.
In addition, the order covers federal departments and agencies that have already begun implementing vaccination mandates: 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 employees in 26 states, including teachers and school staff, will also be covered by the Biden vaccine rules. This includes activists in some states that have banned vaccination requirements for public employees, setting off another conflict between the GOP-led states and the Democratic administration.
Michael Collins covers the White House. Follow him on Twitter @mcollinsNEWS.
Contribution: Maureen Groppe