President Joe Biden on Thursday mandated federal workers get a COVID-19 vaccine.
The new executive order removes the option for workers and contractors to choose not to get vaccinated unless they apply for a religious or medical exemption.
Previously, workers could choose not to get vaccinated for any reason. However, those workers, and contractors, were required to wear masks, get tested regularly for the virus, and social distance.
Federal workers will have approximately 75 days to become fully vaccinated from Sept. 9.
“If a federal worker fails to comply, they will go through the standard [human resources] process, which includes counseling, and face disciplinary action, face progressive disciplinary action. Each agency is going to work with employees to make sure they understand the benefits of vaccination, and how the vaccines are free, easy, and widely accessible. But it will start to be applied once the executive order is signed,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters in Washington.
COVID-19 is the disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.
Several federal agencies have already mandated a COVID-19 vaccine, including the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Pentagon.
Three vaccines are being administered in the United States. Two, from Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, are being administered under emergency use authorization. The third, from Pfizer, is technically approved, but doses under the approval have yet to become available.
Everett Kelley, the president of the American Federation of Government Employees, which describes itself as the largest federal employee union, representing 700,000 federal and D.C. government workers nationwide, said in an emailed statement that the union supports members getting a COVID-19 vaccine but that changes like those in the order “should be negotiated with our bargaining units where appropriate” because “workers deserve a voice in their working conditions.”
“Neither of these positions has changed. We expect to bargain over this change prior to implementation, and we urge everyone who is able to get vaccinated as soon as they can do so,” Kelley said.
Biden said in remarks from Washington that “If you want to work with the federal government and do business with us, get vaccinated,” adding, “If you want to do business with the federal government, vaccinate your workforce.”