Biden unveils comprehensive COVID-19 plan, including mandated vaccinations

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President Joe Biden speaks to the nation from Washington. (ABC News file photo)

President Biden is implementing a six-pronged, comprehensive national COVID-19 strategy that includes mandated vaccinations for federal workers, school employees, and businesses with 100 or more employees.

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The Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is developing a rule that will require all employers with 100 or more employees to ensure their workforce is fully vaccinated or require any workers who remain unvaccinated to produce a negative test result on at least a weekly basis before coming to work. OSHA will issue an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) to implement this requirement. This requirement will impact over 80 million workers in private sector businesses with 100+ employees.

The President has signed an Executive Order to take those actions a step further and require all federal executive branch workers to be vaccinated. The President also signed an Executive Order directing that this standard be extended to employees of contractors that do business with the federal government. As part of this effort, the Department of Defense, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Indian Health Service, and the National Institute of Health will complete implementation of their previously announced vaccination requirements that cover 2.5 million people.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is taking action to require COVID-19 vaccinations for workers in most health care settings that receive Medicare or Medicaid reimbursement, including but not limited to hospitals, dialysis facilities, ambulatory surgical settings, and home health agencies. This action builds on the vaccination requirement for nursing facilities recently announced by CMS, and will apply to nursing home staff as well as staff in hospitals and other CMS-regulated settings, including clinical staff, individuals providing services under arrangements, volunteers, and staff who are not involved in direct patient, resident, or client care. These requirements will apply to approximately 50,000 providers and cover a majority of health care workers across the country. Some facilities and states have begun to adopt hospital staff or health care sector vaccination mandates. This action will create a consistent standard across the country, while giving patients assurance of the vaccination status of those delivering care.

The President’s plan calls on entertainment venues like sports arenas, large concert halls, and other venues where large groups of people gather to require that their patrons be vaccinated or show a negative test for entry.

To continue efforts to ensure that no worker loses a dollar of pay because they get vaccinated, OSHA is developing a rule that will require employers with more than 100 employees to provide paid time off for the time it takes for workers to get vaccinated or to recover if they are under the weather post-vaccination. This requirement will be implemented through the ETS.

The Administration is preparing for boosters to start as early as the week of September 20th, subject to authorization or approval by the FDA and a recommendation from ACIP. Getting a booster will be easy. Booster shots will be free, and widely available across 80,000 locations – from pharmacies to doctors’ offices to health centers.

To help ensure the safety of students, families, and their communities, the President’s plan includes requirements that teachers and staff at Head Start and Early Head Start programs, teachers and child and youth program personnel at the Department of Defense (DOD), and teachers and staff at Bureau of Indian Education-operated schools get vaccinated. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will initiate rulemaking to implement this policy for Head Start and Early Head Start programs, which provide comprehensive education and child development services to ensure that children are well prepared for kindergarten. The Department of Defense operates 160 K-12 schools for students from military families across the U.S. and abroad, and the Department of the Interior operates 53 schools through the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) across the U.S. on and off tribal lands. These schools and programs collectively serve more than 1 million children each year and employ nearly 300,000 staff. This action will help more schools and early childhood centers safely remain open and give comfort to the many parents that rely on them every day to keep their children safe.

Calling on All States to Adopt Vaccine Requirements for All School Employees
Scientific studies have shown that even one unvaccinated teacher can lead to dozens of sick school children. This is a completely avoidable outcome, and we can protect kids—especially those in elementary schools and early childhood education and child care centers where children are not yet eligible for the vaccine—by surrounding them with fully vaccinated adults as the first line of defense against COVID-19. In order to keep all children safely learning in school, the President’s plan calls for Governors to require vaccinations for teachers and school staff. Currently, nine states, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, have vaccination requirements for K-12 school staff, including California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, and Washington. Building on Administration policies to require vaccination among federal employees, including those serving children in DOD and BIE schools, the President is asking more states to join in requiring the vaccine for school employees to make sure we are keeping students safe.

 

To read the whole Biden COVID plan click HERE

(White House Release)

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