White House: No apparent disruption from vaccine mandate

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The Biden administration’s vaccine mandate is working for millions of federal employees, with no apparent disruptions to law enforcement, intelligence-gathering or holiday travel.

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WASHINGTON — The Biden administration’s vaccine mandate for millions of federal employees is in the works, with no apparent disruption to law enforcement, intelligence-gathering or holiday travel.

On Tuesday, a day after the compliance deadline, 92% of the 3.5 million federal employees covered by Biden’s mandate told the government they had been at least partially vaccinated, according to White House officials.

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Overall, 96.5% of employees have been deemed to be in compliance with the policy, which includes medical or religious exemptions that are still being evaluated. The rest are considered out of compliance, but officials stress that “it’s not a cliffhanger,” and that workers will receive counseling on whether to vaccinate or file for exemptions. Only then will the dismissal be considered.

A breakdown on compliance by the federal agency was expected later on Wednesday.

“We know the vaccine requirements work,” said White House assistant press secretary Kevin Munoz. “We hope our implementation sends a clear message to businesses to move forward with equitable measures that will protect their workforce, protect their customers and protect our communities.”

Since the establishment of an initial vaccine-or-testing mandate this summer and then this fall’s more-restrictive requirement without a trial-out option, the White House believes the federal government is a step forward for the rest of the country’s employers. Can serve as a model for how vaccination can help a shepherd return to normal quickly.

White House officials say the most important lesson for businesses from the federal experience is that once they take the first step toward requirements, their workers will follow through.

Internal Revenue Service figures show how a mandate can boost vaccination rates. About 25% of the agency’s staff got a shot for the first time since Biden announced the mandate in September; Now, 98% are in compliance.

Republican Representative Chris Stewart of Utah, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, said many intelligence agencies did not have vaccinations of at least 20% of their workforce by the end of October.

Larry Cosme, president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, said about the same time that the association has about 31,000 members from 65 federal law enforcement agencies and estimates that 60% of them have been vaccinated.

A federal corrections officers association in Florida sued the mandate last week, saying it was a civil rights violation. The matter is pending.

Some of the initial fears about the vaccination status of the federal workforce stemmed from employees without access to government computers to certify their vaccinations. Some, such as front-line Transportation Security Administration officers, rarely use government computers. Others are in the field or are late in responding to surveys or starting vaccinations.

The federal vaccination rate exceeds the vaccination rate for all Americans. About 82.2% of American adults, or more than 212 million people, have received at least one dose. About 71% of them, or more than 183 million, are fully vaccinated.

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