White House implements Jan. 4 deadline for vaccine mandates

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The mandates will cover federal workers, health care workers, and larger employers

The White House is not about to give up on its crusade against COVID-19. On Thursday, President Biden announced new vaccine policies in an effort to move the vaccination rate as high as possible. To do that, the latest Biden rules zero in on federal contractors, health care workers, and larger employers, requiring that they all be vaccinated by January 4, 2022.

As you remember, President Biden rolled out his first wave of vaccination requirements for federal employees and contractors back in July. At that time, he called on employers to do the same. 

“Thousands of organizations across the country have answered the President’s call, and vaccination requirements have already helped reduce the number of unvaccinated Americans by approximately 40 percent since July,” the White House stated. “More vaccinations are needed to save lives, protect the economy, and accelerate the path out of the pandemic.”

The new vaccination rules

Here are the highlights of the vaccination mandate:

Employers with 100 or more employees. White House officials believe that increasing vaccination rates at larger employers is key to increasing the nation’s overall vaccination rate. By federal estimates, there are nearly 84 million vaccination opportunities within larger businesses.

The Biden administration says businesses with 100+ workers must guarantee that every single worker will be fully vaccinated -- either two doses of Pfizer or Moderna, or one dose of Johnson & Johnson -- by January 4, 2022. Workers who are not vaccinated will need to provide a verified negative test to their employer on at least a weekly basis, and employers will need to remove any worker from the workplace if they test positive for COVID-19 or are diagnosed with an infection by a health care provider.

The new rule also requires these employers to provide paid time off so employees can get vaccinated, and they must ensure that all unvaccinated workers wear a face mask in the workplace. Employers may also be required to pay for testing depending on other laws or collective bargaining agreements.

A full list of requirements for businesses with 100+ employees is available here.

Health care workers. The vaccination mandate for health care workers will apply to more than 17 million workers at approximately 76,000 health care facilities, including hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, dialysis facilities, home health agencies, and long-term care facilities.

Much like the rule for businesses, workers at health care facilities who participate in Medicare or Medicaid have to be fully vaccinated by January 4th. This applies to all workers regardless of whether their positions are clinical or non-clinical and whether they’re an employee, student, trainee, or volunteer. 

It also includes individuals who provide treatment or other services for the facility under contract or other arrangements.

Federal employees. Federal employees and contractors will need to have their final vaccination dose just like the other workers affected by this change by January 4.

Federal officials say they will not apply additional rules to federal workers who are following mandate rules from agencies like OSHA and the CMS, which will be in charge of enforcing rules for larger employers and health care workers, respectively. However, they say the federal worker mandates “preempt any inconsistent state or local laws, including laws that ban or limit an employer’s authority to require vaccination, masks, or testing.”

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