WASHINGTON – Some 95% of federal workers who come under a requirement of the Biden administration to receive the COVID-19 vaccine have complied with the mandate, the White House said on 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 president’s executive office has already achieved a 99% vaccination rate, she said.
“The vaccine requirements are working,” Psaki said.
Federal employees had until the end of Monday to get at least one dose of the vaccine or request a medical or religious exemption. Unlike private employers, they are not allowed to withdraw from the vaccination mandate if they agree to weekly tests.
Biden announced the tenure of federal employees in September as part of his administration’s strategy to deal with the coronavirus pandemic and increase vaccination rates across the country.
Biden ordered that federal workers and employees of government contractors be vaccinated. Government contractors have until Jan. 4 to comply. Biden also ordered private employers with 100 or more workers to ensure their workforce is fully immunized by January 4 or undergo weekly COVID testing.
A federal appeals court suspended the vaccine requirement for private employers two weeks ago after conservative states and businesses filed a lawsuit. The case is likely going to the United States Supreme Court.
The vaccination order for federal employees applies to all employees of the executive as well as to all employees of federal contractors. The ordinance covers about 90% of the estimated 4 million federal workers, but does not apply to non-executive employees such as members of Congress or judicial employees.
In addition, the ordinance covers federal departments and agencies that have already started implementing immunization mandates: military and other service members under the Department of Defense, Department of Veterans Affairs, 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 workers in some states that have banned vaccination requirements for public employees, creating another clash between the GOP-led states and the Democratic administration.
Michael Collins covers the White House. Follow him on Twitter @mcollinsNEWS.
Contribution: Maureen Groppe