“Anytime a veteran or VA employee sets foot in a VA facility, they deserve to know that we have done everything in our power to protect them from COVID-19. “
About 115,000 employees will fall under the VA’s mandate, according to the New York Times, which first reported on the decision.
“I’m doing it because it’s the best way to keep our veterans safe, period,” the secretary told The Times.
The Biden administration has grappled with how best to increase vaccination rates, which have stagnated in parts of the country despite an increase in cases linked to the highly contagious Delta variant.
So far, the White House has been wary of top-down approaches, preferring instead to encourage local governments and private companies to set their own rules regarding vaccinations.
The VA said four employees have died in recent weeks due to Covid. Not all workers were vaccinated and at least three died from the Delta variant. Additionally, an outbreak occurred at the VA Law Enforcement Training Center, the third of its kind during the pandemic.
Last week, the NFL said teams experiencing an outbreak among unvaccinated players could be forced to forgo games, placing a multi-million dollar financial incentive for teams and their players to get vaccinated. .
Also on Monday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio separately announced that all city workers will either need to be vaccinated or have weekly Covid-19 testing. This rule will come into effect citywide on September 13, although it comes into effect earlier for public health workers and staff in community living facilities.
Likewise, California Governor Gavin Newsom said Monday that all state employees and healthcare workers will need to be vaccinated or undergo regular testing.