White House: 90% of federal workers, military have gotten at least one COVID shot
More than 90% of the nation’s 3.5 million federal workers have gotten at least one COVID shot with the “vast majority” of employees fully vaccinated and another 5% either requesting an extension or exemption, the Biden administration was expected to announce on Monday.
Officials said the numbers — which include civilian and military personnel — show the government won’t see disruptions this holiday season in because of the mandate.
It’s still unclear though exactly how many workers in critical jobs like border patrol, prisons and airport security have sought medical or religious exemptions. It also wasn’t immediately clear when those employees would run out of options if denied, with agencies just now beginning the counseling process but given ample leeway to decide how to handle workers who refuse to get a shot.
“There won’t be disruptions to government services and operations,” said a senior administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity in advance of an announcement later Monday. “At each step of this process we’ll see even more employees getting vaccinated.”
Overall, the White House says 95% of employees total are “in compliance,” meaning they either have at least one dose or have filed a medical or religious exemption or asked for an extension, said the official. That includes 93% of workers at the Transportation Security Administration.
The White House Office of Management and Budget was expected to release more details on Wednesday, including a breakdown of vaccination rates by agency.
The mandate is the nation’s first test of President Joe Biden’s insistence that employer requirements work. Biden has proposed a separate Jan. 4 mandate that would apply to federal contractors and health care workers.
He also has proposed that businesses with 100 or more employees mandate vaccines or weekly testing; that regulation by the Labor Department is on hold pending a review by a federal appeals court.
Under Biden’s plan, more than 2 million civilian workers were supposed to have gotten their final vaccine dose two weeks ago so as to be considered “fully immunized” by Monday’s deadline. The White House has not released estimates yet on how many of those employees did so.
Military personnel face their own deadlines depending upon their service branch.