Doctor giving patient vaccine. Shutterstock ID 1498605842 by Arturs Budkevics


Lawmakers seek direct vaccine allocations for D.C.-area feds

A group of House Democrats want vaccines to be allocated directly to federal employees in the National Capital Region. They're asking for the Office of Personnel Management and the Centers for Disease Control to make the inoculation of federal employees a federal process.

D.C., Maryland and Virginia are home to a large concentration of federal workers, many of whom are essential workers, the group wrote in a letter sent on Wednesday to Acting OPM Director, Kathleen McGettigan and Rochelle Walensky, CDC Director.

"That means that Virginia, D.C., and Maryland have a disproportionate number of individuals classified as essential workers by the federal government, yet the responsibility of vaccination falls under these subfederal jurisdictions," the letter reads.

Reps. Don Beyer (D-Va.), Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), Anthony Brown (D-Md.), Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), Jennifer Wexton (D-Va.), David Trone (D-Md.) and Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) signed the letter.

The lawmakers pointed to other programs where the federal government "acknowledges when it puts an undue burden on a State or locality," such as a program that offsets property tax revenue losses for local school districts that have tax-exempt federal property in their district.

"Rather than foisting federal employees into Virginia, D.C., or Maryland's supply of vaccines and increasing their essential worker vaccination responsibilities, the federal government should vaccinate federal employees through a separate federalized allocation to get them vaccinated as soon as possible," they wrote.

Some agencies have already received separate allocations of COVID-19 vaccines for their workforces, including the Departments of Defense, State and Veterans Affairs, the Bureau of Prisons and the Indian Health Service. Employees of the Department of Homeland Security are eligible to obtain vaccinations via a collaboration with VA.

Many of the same lawmakers wrote to OPM earlier this month requesting another policy shift to cover the vaccination of feds: the option of administrative time off for vaccination.

That request made it into the $350 billion COVID aid resolution advanced last week by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, which included a provision providing additional emergency paid leave for the civilian federal workforce. That resolution is part of the $1.9 trillion package of pandemic relief and recovery funding sought by the Biden administration.

Feds could use that additional leave for receiving the vaccination, although none of the additional time off is available until they've exhausted their other available paid sick leave.

Biden's Safer Federal Workforce Task Force has also encouraged agencies to grant administrative leave for feds to be vaccinated in order "to facilitate expeditious vaccination of the federal workforce."

Reader comments

Sun, Mar 21, 2021

What a joke, CBP employees work directly with the public and all we hear is the vaccine is coming and we have a plan. What plan ? there isn't a plan. If your a fed and you are essential and you work in an environment where Covid is easily spread the best advice is seek to get the vaccine privately. Waiting for the federal government to act on the side of federal employees is a myth.

Mon, Mar 15, 2021 NCR Fed MD

It is for Feds in the National Capital Region (NCR); MD/VA/DC. You don't have to live in DC. If you are being paid NCR wages, this would include you.

Tue, Feb 23, 2021 MD

I am a federal employee in Maryland, but not in DC. What a crock. There are many essential workers across the country, not just feds. I am currently waiting my turn for the vaccine like everyone else. The feds in DC always think they are entitled. WAIT LIKE EVERYONE ELSE.

Fri, Feb 19, 2021 TEXAS

Because the politians are who they are they do not deserve any special treatment. Regular people(citizens) should get theirs first

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