The White House Just Issued This New Deadline on Vaccine Mandates
Millions of workers will be required to be vaccinated in just a few months.
Vaccine mandates have popped up all across the U.S., from major cities like Los Angeles and New York City requiring proof of vaccination for indoor spaces to hotels in states like Hawaii turning away unvaccinated guests. But one of the largest orders is not just relegated to certain places. In early September, President Joe Biden announced a sweeping set of mandates, including vaccine requirements for federal employees, health care workers, and large U.S. companies. Under the order, Biden is requiring that all employers with more than 100 workers gather proof of full vaccination from all employees. Now, his administration has finally set a deadline for these vaccine mandates.
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On Nov. 4, the White House announced that large companies will have until Jan. 4 to ensure that their employees are fully vaccinated against COVID. The Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) says that all employers must ensure their employees have received either two doses of Pfizer or Moderna or one dose of Johnson & Johnson by this date, as well as provide paid time for these workers to get vaccinated and sick leave to recover from vaccine side effects, if necessary.
"While I would have much preferred that requirements not become necessary, too many people remain unvaccinated for us to get out of this pandemic for good," Biden said in a statement on Nov. 4, per The New York Times. White House COVID adviser Anthony Fauci, MD, recently told McClatchy that about 64 million eligible people in the U.S. are still unvaccinated.
In its announcement, the White House added that "more vaccinations are needed to save lives, protect the economy, and accelerate the path out of the pandemic," noting that this mandate will cover 84 million employees.
Workers at health care facilities participating in Medicare or Medicaid will be required to get vaccinated by Jan. 4 as well, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). The deadline for employees of federal contractors has also been pushed from Dec. 8 to Jan. 4, according to ABC News, but federal employees who are not contracted are still required to be vaccinated by Nov. 22.
"To make it easy for businesses and workers to comply, the Administration is announcing today that the deadline for workers to receive their shots will be the same for the OSHA rule, the CMS rule, and the previously-announced federal contractor vaccination requirement," the White House said in its announcement.
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Some companies have set their separate mandate deadlines earlier than January, however. Tyson Foods announced its mandate in September, with a deadline of Nov. 2, while United Airlines had set a deadline of Sept. 27 for the first vaccine dose. According to data from the White House, vaccine requirements have already helped cut the rate of unvaccinated U.S. adults by one-third.
Federal employees, contractors, and health care workers will not have the option to test out of these vaccine mandates, but after Jan. 4, unvaccinated workers for companies with more than 100 employees will be required to test for COVID on at least a weekly basis, per OSHA's guidelines.
But some of these larger companies are letting go of unvaccinated employees altogether. In mid-October, United Airlines confirmed that it had started the process of terminating more than 200 employees that remained unvaccinated against COVID, as reported by Business Insider.
"We're not going to win the arguments on this with people. And I respect that you have a different opinion but you now have a decision to make about whether you want to get vaccinated and stay at United or not," United CEO Scott Kirby told the news outlet at the time.
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