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Health and Human Services now the latest to require vaccination


The Department of Health and Human Services announced Thursday it is the latest federal agency to require employees be vaccinated. The Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs have vaccine mandates already in place.

These recent moves have been a part of President Joe Biden’s goal of vaccinating all federal workers.

HHS’ requirement applies to the more than 25,000 members of its health care workforce. “Instructing our HHS health care workforce to get vaccinated will protect our federal workers and the patients and people they serve,” HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said.

Indian Health Service and National Institutes of Health fall under HHS. Staff who serve in federally-operated health care and clinical research facilities and interact with, or have the potential to come into contact with, patients will be required to receive the vaccine. This includes employees, contractors, trainees, and volunteers.

U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy will immediately require members of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps to be vaccinated as part of medical readiness procedures to prepare for any potential deployment need as emergency responders.

The rest of HHS’ 80,000 employees not covered by the new mandate would fall under President Biden’s recent policy change requiring federal workers and contractors to either get vaccinated or be subject to regular testing.

Workers with religious objections or a medical condition can be exempt from the requirement, as long as it doesn’t disrupt the workplace.

While vaccination is nearly universal among physicians, the same can’t be said for other people working in health care settings. Nursing homes and hospitals rely on support staff for everything from clerical duties to transporting patients. Their vaccination rates often mirror the surrounding communities.

About half the U.S. population is fully vaccinated. New COVID-19 cases have surged past 100,000 a day. That hasn’t been seen since last November.

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