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Over 90 percent of federal workers vaccinated by deadline, White House says

More than 90 percent of the federal workforce has received at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine, the White House said Monday on the deadline for President Biden’s federal employee mandate.

Another roughly 5 percent are in compliance by having a valid exception or an extension request, a senior administration official said, bringing the total to 95 percent in compliance.

For the small percentage of employees who are not in compliance, which still translates to thousands of people out of more than 3.5 million federal workers, “agencies are beginning an education and counseling process, followed by additional enforcement steps over time if needed,” the official said.

The Biden administration hopes the high uptake among federal workers is an example for private sector employers, as part of a larger vaccine mandate push. The administration’s vaccination-or-testing requirement for businesses with 100 or more workers is scheduled to take effect Jan. 4, though it is currently paused by a federal appeals court.

“As the progress across the Federal government has shown, these requirements work — 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,” the senior administration official said.

On Wednesday, more details will be published about the vaccination rate at each agency. The official added that Monday’s deadline is not an “end point” and that more workers could still submit evidence of getting the shots.

The White House says it does not expect disruptions from the rule, though.

“We do not anticipate facing any governmental operational disruptions due to this requirement,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Friday. “And, in fact, the requirement will avoid disruptions, in our view, in our labor force because vaccinations help avoid COVID.”

[Source: By Peter Sullivan, The Hill, Washington, 22Nov21]

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