By Aryan Rai
Boston University News Service
Days after the U.S. Office of Budget and Management gave an update on the federal employee vaccination mandate that showed signs of success, the White House announced that non-compliant employees will not face any action until next year.
The original deadline for complying with the mandate passed on Nov. 22. The mandate was announced on Sept. 9 by President Joe Biden through an executive order.
It detailed that to “promote the health and safety of the federal workforce and the efficiency of the civil service, it is necessary to require COVID-19 vaccination for all federal employees, subject to such exceptions as required by law.”
A statement released on Nov. 24 mentioned that since the announcement of the vaccination mandate the White House said it achieved a compliance rate of 96.5%.
The compliance percentage was based on the number of people who have either received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine or have a pending or approved exemption request. The agency-wide vaccination percentage — the number of employees who have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine — was not far behind, at 92%. The statement pointed out that the goals of the mandate were attained “without disruptions to critical services people depend on.”
According to a chart released by the Office of Budget and Planning, the Department of Transportation had the highest percentage of compliance with 99.6%, with the Department of Commerce following with a percentage of 99.4%.
It is notable that even with a high compliance percentage, only 90.6% of Department of Transportation’s employees have received at least one dose of the vaccination. The Department of Commerce, similarly, had an agency-wide vaccination percentage of 93.9%.
The Agency for International Development had a 99.1% compliance rate as well as the highest vaccination percentage, with 97.8% of its employees receiving at least one vaccine dose. The Department of Agriculture had a compliance percentage of 95.6% but fell short in the percentage of employees vaccinated at just 86.1% — the lowest of all.
The White House stated that the “deadline was not an endpoint.” The employees who have so far failed to comply with the mandate are encouraged to do so per the “enforcement steps” mentioned in the guidelines for the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force.
The guidelines mention that if someone fails to comply with the mandate, they will go through 5 days of “education and counseling” about the “benefits of vaccination” and “ways to obtain the vaccine.”
If the person still does not comply, the next step is a 14-day suspension. The guidelines further note that “continued non-compliance during the suspension can be followed by proposing removal.”