The long-awaited federal vaccine mandate will be enforced starting January 4, the White House announced on Thursday.
With the federal vaccine mandate in place, millions of federal workers and employees in companies with more than 100 workers will have to be fully vaccinated by Jan. 4 or will have to undergo weekly Covid-19 testing.
The federal mandate was initially expected to be enforced in the fall months, but the government decided to postpone it for January because many companies still struggle to find workers in preparations for the holiday season.
The vaccines have been available free for charge for almost a year now and this move from Biden comes in an effort to make those vaccine hesitant, who still haven’t got the vaccine, to get vaccinated.
The pandemic killed more than 750,000 Americans so far.
No one has accurate data how many of the 84 million workers covered with the mandate are vaccinated and how many are not.
Many states, especially GOP-led states, are doing everything in their power to stop the vaccine mandate for companies based in those states. Few weeks ago, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed an executive order banning vaccine mandates in the state of Texas.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations will force the companies to require that unvaccinated workers test negative for COVID-19 at least once a week and wear a mask while in the workplace.
While the mandate now only applies for federal workers and workers in companies with more than 100 employees, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is looking forward the vaccine mandate to be also expanded to private companies with less than 100 workers.
Tougher rules will apply to another 17 million people who work in nursing homes, hospitals and other facilities that receive money from Medicare and Medicaid. Those workers will not have an option for testing — they will need to be vaccinated.
As of now, the vaccinate mandate requirement will not apply for people working at home or outdoors. Workers additionally have the right to ask to be exempted on medical or religious grounds.
Health experts believe that by mid-December we shall see improvement in vaccination rate as a result of the vaccine mandate.