Biden administration considering vaccine requirements for all federal workers
President Biden on Tuesday said his administration is considering making it mandatory for federal workers to get the coronavirus vaccine.
The president’s comments, which echoed those of his press secretary hours earlier, came one day after the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced it will require its front-line health care workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
“That is under consideration right now, but if you’re not vaccinated, you’re not nearly as smart as I thought you were,” Biden said during a visit to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki earlier Tuesday would not rule out the possibility of more federal agencies joining the VA in requiring their employees to get the vaccine as cases rise around the country with the spread of the highly contagious delta variant.
“I think a range of agencies and leaders will look at what steps they should take to protect their workforce and save lives,” she said.
The VA mandate marked the first time any part of the federal government has said it will require COVID-19 vaccines.
The Biden administration has generally shied away from throwing its weight behind any kind of requirement for Americans to get vaccinated, saying it’s the role of the private sector to make those judgments. But calls for more mandates from employers are on the rise, spurred by an uptick in cases in certain parts of the country.
New York City announced a mandate for its workers earlier on Monday, the NFL has said unvaccinated players could face fines if they cause an outbreak, and many universities have made it a requirement for staff and students to get the shot to return to campus.
More than 50 health care groups, including the American Medical Association, on Monday also called for health care employers to mandate that all workers be vaccinated.
Cases have risen across the country in recent weeks with the spread of the delta variant, causing alarm among many public health experts that the U.S. is regressing in its fight against the pandemic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced Tuesday that vaccinated Americans are encouraged to wear masks indoors if they are in areas with high levels of virus transmission.