Around 95 percent of the 3.5 million federal employees covered by President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate for government workers have complied with the requirement ahead of its Monday deadline, according to the White House.
The Biden administration said it considers any federal worker who is in the process of getting vaccinated or requesting an exemption as "in compliance" with the mandate, according to a senior administration official, despite its requirement that federal workers be fully vaccinated by Nov. 22.
More than 90 percent of federal employees “have had at least one shot, with the vast majority of those employees being fully vaccinated,” the official said. And 95 percent have received at least their first vaccination dose or have "a pending or approved exception or extension request."
Federal workers had to receive their last dose of the vaccine no later than Nov. 8 to meet the deadline Monday, according to guidance from the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force.
Data on how many federal workers are fully vaccinated — which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines as two weeks after a second dose of Pfizer or Moderna or a single dose of Johnson and Johnson — will not be available until a later date, a senior administration official said.
What's next: For federal workers who haven’t complied with the mandate, agencies are offering “an education and counseling process,” the official said, “followed by additional enforcement steps over time if needed.”
The White House stressed that there would be no interruptions to government services and touted the efficacy of its vaccine mandate ahead of looming deadlines for private businesses and government contractors to ensure their employees are vaccinated. The administration is fighting numerous lawsuits to halt the mandate for private businesses, and it was recently stayed by a federal court.
"As the progress across the Federal government has shown, these requirements work," the senior administration official said, "and we hope that our implementation can serve as an example for other businesses of every size to move forward with similar measures that will protect their workforce, protect their customers and protect our communities."
Background: Federal employees have until the end of the day Monday to comply with a September executive order requiring that all federal employees receive a Covid-19 vaccine without the ability to opt out by taking weekly tests for the virus.
That’s separate from forthcoming requirements for federal contractors and private business employing more than 100 workers. Private employees can opt out by submitting to testing.
In the weeds: Agency-specific data on their staff’s compliance with the mandate will be released on Wednesday by the Office of Management and Budget, the senior administration official said.
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