FRIDAY, Sept. 10, 2021 (HealthDay News) — In an assertive offensive against a resurgent COVID-19 pandemic, President Joe Biden on Thursday announced sweeping new efforts at pressuring tens of millions of U.S. government workers to get vaccinated against the illness or face disciplinary action.
Using the power of presidential executive orders and other federal prerogatives, the Biden administration will compel an estimated 4 million federal government workers to roll up their sleeves for COVID-19 shots if they have not already done so.
The White House also plans to put tough financial pressures on federal contractors to get their workers immunized, as well as the more than 17 million Americans who work in hospitals and other institutions receiving Medicare and Medicaid funding. Even the private sector could feel the strain of federal action. Biden is asking the U.S. Department of Labor to draft rules that would compel businesses with 100 or more employees to either have their workers get vaccinated or undergo weekly testing. According to Biden, that rule could affect about 80 million workers nationwide.
According to information obtained by The New York Times, a 75-day grace period to get vaccinated will go into effect for people working for the federal government. With the exception of religious and disability exemptions, most of these workers would need to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination by the end of the 75 days or face disciplinary action through usual human resources department procedures at their place of work.
Because vaccinations are controlled by individual states, the White House does not have the power to simply compel all Americans to line up for their COVID-19 shots. But the measures the president outlined on Thursday remain powerful incentives for millions.
The new strategy outlined by Biden contains five other key elements: more efforts to get school staff vaccinated nationwide; more COVID-19 testing; getting tougher on masks; improved care for COVID-19 patients; and global outreach.
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