VA adds 245K more employees to vaccine mandate

VA adds 245K more employees to vaccine mandate
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The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will expand its COVID-19 vaccination requirement to 245,000 more employees at the agency's health facilities. 

"A couple of weeks ago, we mandated about 115,000 people to get the vaccine. These are health care professionals who are most regularly in touch with veterans. That's what this is all about — keeping our veterans safe,” VA Secretary Denis McDonoughDenis Richard McDonoughOvernight Defense & National Security — Presented by Raytheon Technologies — House lawmakers eye military pay raise next year VA secretary pledges to house hundreds of homeless veterans in LA by end of year Expats plead with US to deliver COVID-19 vaccines MORE said on "CBS This Morning."

McDonough said the additional employees, which includes psychologists, pharmacists, engineers, housekeepers, medical support assistants and other clinical and administrative workers, was based on an uptick in the rate of vaccinations among health care professionals as the country deals with a surge in COVID-19 cases largely due to the delta variant.

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“What we have noticed is that there is an uptick, about a doubling of the rate of vaccinations among those 35,000 health care professionals of that first wave getting vaccinated, so that's progressing well. Based on that we decide that we'll start tomorrow, expanding the vaccination requirement to 245,000 additional employees, about 110,000 of them we believe still need the vaccination," McDonough continued.

"We are working through to make sure each of them is safe and each of them have the vaccinations they need and most importantly our veteran patients are safe. That's what this is all about," McDonough said. 

McDonough announced in July a vaccine requirement for 115,000 employees who had patient-facing jobs including physicians, dentists, podiatrists, optometrists and registered nurses.

"I am focused right here on us. I am sure others [federal agencies] are making these kinds of decisions and thinking this through. Our experiences that this is complicated but it is very manageable. It is leading to an increase in vaccinations and we think that this will improve the outcome for our veterans,” the secretary added.