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COVID: It's Deadline Day for feds

Today—Monday, November 22, 2021—is the deadline for federal employees to be fully vaccinated, as ordered by the Biden administration over two months ago. 

And, in what the White House sees as a win, more than 90% of government employees have complied or have begun to comply by the target date—according to officials and as reported in some detail by GovExec, CBS, Axios and others. GovExec noted that the impressive figure includes some with only one of two doses, but officials clearly see those as on track to full compliance. 

“By the deadline for the vaccination requirement, we will have already achieved 95 percent compliance across the federal government, and 90 percent of those employees will have had at least one shot,” as Jen Psaki, the White House Press Secretary, put it. 

Asked if the administration was concerned that the small but significant numbers of feds who are non-compliant could disrupt needed services, Psaki emphasized the administration’s confidence. 

“We have no concern about that,” she said. “[It’s] 95 percent compliance … [There] are exemptions. So, as we’ve said a number of times, we don’t see this as a cliff.” 

Limited exceptions to the federal employee vaccination mandate, as outlined on the Safer Federal Workforce web page, apply—”based on a medical condition … or based on religion,” with the precise requirements and implementation of these administered by each department or agency. 

Last winter and spring—during the early months of the new presidency—the White House telegraphed that it would avoid imposing mandates on most feds or the general population. There was great excitement and hope, as the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines all showed strong efficacy and mass acceptance. 

Then came Delta. And a slowdown in the vaccine campaign—followed by renewed regional spikes in COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths. Ultimately, and to many not surprisingly, a raft of vaccination and vaccination-or-testing mandates ensued.  

2021 Digital Almanac

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