The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis will require its 1,100 employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19 by the end of August, according to the institution’s President and CEO Neel Kashkari.
Kashkari said in a post on the Minneapolis Fed website on Wednesday that the new policy would require all employees to get the shot “as a condition of continuing employment, with accommodations only provided to those who cannot get vaccinated due to medical conditions or sincerely held religious beliefs.” He added that the policy will also be in effect for new hires.
“While some staff may be unhappy with this new requirement, we believe most will appreciate the actions we are taking on our collective behalf,” Kashkari said.
Touching on the legal aspects of such a mandate, the chief of the Minneapolis Fed noted that recently updated guidance from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission indicates that employers can legally require staff physically entering the workplace to be vaccinated for COVID-19, the disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.
COVID-19 vaccines have become a flashpoint in the culture wars now gripping America, with opponents of vaccine mandates, vaccine passports, and other pandemic-related restrictions viewing them as an unacceptable violation of civil liberties, while supporters tend to see them as necessary inconveniences to protect vulnerable populations and, more broadly, get the outbreak under control faster.
Expounding on the rationale for mandating COVID-19 vaccines, Kashkari cited the need for the Minneapolis Fed to shift away from remote working arrangements and for staff to come back into the office.
“But there is no way for us to bring a critical mass of our staff back into our facilities and maintain social distancing. Hence, we need our employees to be vaccinated,” he said, arguing that people who can get the vaccine but choose not to put other staff who cannot be vaccinated due to health conditions at unnecessary risk.
To date, over 82 percent of employees at the Minneapolis Fed have been fully vaccinated, including the entire senior leadership team, Kashkari said.
“Most of the remaining 18 percent have not told us their vaccination plans, and a small percentage have indicated they do not plan to get vaccinated,” he added.
“While there remains a lot that experts don’t know about COVID-19, the science is clear that everyone’s safety is enhanced the closer we can get our vaccination rate to 100 percent,” he added.
The Biden administration has ramped up its COVID-19 response after the White House fell short of its self-imposed July 4 deadline to get 70 percent of American adults at least one vaccination shot.
Earlier this week, President Joe Biden and White House press secretary Jen Psaki announced a plan to send teams door-to-door to provide information about vaccines in areas with relatively low vaccination rates.
Biden pledged to “go community by community … and oftentimes door to door, literally knocking on doors” in an effort to get people vaccinated, drawing the ire of Republican lawmakers, who argued that the government doesn’t have the right to know who is or isn’t vaccinated.
“How about don’t knock on my door. You’re not my parents. You’re the government. Make the vaccine available, and let people be free to choose. Why is that concept so hard for the left?” Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) wrote on Twitter.
According to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 67 percent of American adults have received at least one shot, and more than 157 million people are fully vaccinated.
Jack Phillips contributed to this report.