President Biden to Mandate COVID-19 Vaccine for Federal Employees and Large Employers
On Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021, President Joe Biden signed executive orders requiring federal workers and contractors to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Biden also directed the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to draft a new emergency rule requiring all businesses with 100 or more employees to ensure all of their workers are either tested for COVID-19 once a week or fully vaccinated.
These new rules come shortly after the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine was fully approved for use by the Food and Drug Administration, enabling the White House to fight the pandemic more aggressively.
The federal employee mandate will apply to executive branch employees and members of the armed services, among others. Applicable federal employees will not be provided the option for weekly testing in lieu of vaccination.
The OSHA emergency rule—which is expected in the coming weeks—could affect as many as 80 million Americans. It will reportedly require large employers to provide their workers with paid time off to get vaccinated and recover from any vaccination-related side effects (e.g., chills). Companies that fail to comply may be subject to up to $14,000 in fines per employee.
Additionally, COVID-19 vaccinations will be required for more than 17 million health care workers at hospitals and other facilities that receive Medicare or Medicaid reimbursement. This requirement covers a majority of health care workers throughout the country.