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More than 90% of federal workers will have had at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine by the end of Monday, the deadline for the nation’s largest workforce to get vaccinated under a mandate President Biden imposed in September.
The vast majority of the 3.5 million workers covered by the mandate have been fully vaccinated, said a senior administration official who declined to be identified before the deadline. Another 5% of employees have applied for or received an exception or deferment, the official said.
That’s faster than the rate among all U.S. adults, 71% of whom are fully vaccinated.
Federal workers have all day today to submit their vaccination certificate. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Friday that experience with other similar private sector mandates indicates there could be a last-minute rush to meet requirements and file paperwork.
The small percentage of federal workers who fail to comply with the mandate today will not be fired immediately. Agencies will continue to process documentation and consider waivers, including for documented medical necessity. There will be education and guidance for workers who have failed to comply, with the ongoing goal of getting even more federal workers fully vaccinated.
For months, the White House has opposed vaccine mandates over backlash concerns, but with the delta variant sparking a surge in cases and slowing the pace of vaccinations, Biden signed orders requiring all civilian federal employees and employees of federal contractors to provide a proof of vaccination. A similar requirement was imposed on military personnel and people working in nursing homes, hospitals and doctors’ offices.
While the CDC opened booster shots to all adults on Friday, the requirement for now is just a single dose of the J&J vaccine or two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines. That could change if the CDC updates its definition of fully vaccinated to include boosters.
Psaki said the government does not expect any operational disruptions from people who choose not to be vaccinated.
The White House Office of Management and Budget plans to release data Wednesday showing how many employees in each department and agency have met the vaccine mandate requirements.
Heading into a busy week of travel, Transport Secretary Pete Buttigieg said his agency is well on its way to a nearly fully vaccinated workforce.
“We’ve seen figures from almost 99% of people got their information, as per requirements,” Buttigieg said on NBC’s Sunday Meet the press. “Either they’ve been… vaccinated, or they’re on it, or they’ve applied for a waiver.”
The largest federal workers’ union, AFGE, earlier this month requested that the Biden administration align the vaccination deadline for federal workers with the January deadline for employees of federal contractors, arguing it would be bad for employee morale to take disciplinary measures during the holidays. to take measures. The White House has not pushed back either deadline.
But in congressional testimony, AFGE President Everett Kelley pointed to avoiding a government shutdown as “the single most important thing Congress can do to ensure a turbulent season without turbulence.”
Government funding will expire Dec. 3 unless Congress approves another funding measure.