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Vaccine Mandates Proposed By Biden-Put To First Test With Federal Staffs

President Joe Biden is pressing ahead with a big plan to vaccinate millions of private-sector workers by early next year. But first, he must ensure that employees in his own federal government receive the vaccine.

According to the president’s executive order, about 4 million government employees must be vaccinated by November 22. Employees at the White House, for example, are virtually all immunized. 

Vaccine Mandates Proposed By Biden-Put To First Test With Federal Staffs

Other federal agencies, notably those involved in law enforcement and intelligence, have lower percentages, according to the agency and union officials. And some hardy workers are fighting back, filing lawsuits, and challenging what they see as the White House’s unjustified overreach.

The impending deadline will be the first test of Biden’s campaign to force Americans to receive vaccines. Aside from the federal worker regulation, another obligation, aimed at about 84 million private-sector workers, will take effect in January, according to guidelines released this week.

Vaccine Mandates Proposed By Biden-Put To First Test With Federal Staffs

If the regulations are successful, they might result in the greatest significant reduction in new coronavirus infections since the vaccine was originally made available, especially now that children aged 5-11 are eligible for the vaccination, making an extra 64 million individuals eligible. 

However, with only two weeks until the federal worker deadline, some union officials believe persuading the unvaccinated to alter their minds is becoming more difficult.

Vaccines have a long history of safety, with clinical studies and independent assessments demonstrating that they are largely successful in avoiding serious disease and death from COVID-19.

Scientists have been fighting fears about the vaccine since it was originally approved; an AP-NORC poll earlier this year found that one-third of individuals in the United States were suspicious, despite assurances that it was safe and effective, with minimal significant adverse effects. Around 70% of adults in the United States are completely vaccinated, and 80% have had at least one vaccination dose.

Vaccinations have been administered at varying rates throughout the federal government.

Officials from the Department of Health and Human Services, the United States Food and Drug Administration, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development indicated they were working to get their staff vaccinated, but no data were available.

President of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, Larry Cosme, said the organization has around 31,000 members from 65 federal law enforcement organizations, with roughly 60% of them having been vaccinated. By the end of last month, Homeland Security, a massive government agency with over 240,000 employees, had vaccinated nearly 64% of its workforce. 

Employees are being warned about the impending rule, and federal agencies are giving time off to obtain the vaccination and encourage staff to comply. They will not, however, be dismissed if they do not meet the deadline on November 22. They’d be offered “counseling” and five days to begin the vaccine procedure. They may be suspended for 14 days before being dismissed, but that procedure would take months.

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