Neither federal employees and nor contractors will be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 come May 11, according to the White House Monday.
The Biden administration said it is ending immunization requirements for millions of federal employees, contractors and international air travelers at the end of the day on May 11, coinciding with the end of the national public health emergency.
“While vaccination remains one of the most important tools in advancing the health and safety of employees and promoting the efficiency of workplaces, we are now in a different phase of our response when these measures are no longer necessary,” President Biden said in a statement.
In September 2021, Biden signed the executive order that made the vaccine mandatory for civilian employees and government contractors. That was met almost immediately with fierce opposition and, eventually, legal pushback via a nationwide injunction in January 2022.
The White House says by that time, the government workforce was roughly 98% excepted or vaccinated with at least one dose.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Homeland Security will also end their vaccination requirements for Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services workers in certified facilities, noncitizens at the land border and Head Start educators who work in programs around the country.
Since January 2021, COVID-19 deaths have declined by 95%, and hospitalizations are down nearly 91%, according to White House data.
The Department of Labor’s workers’ compensation program for federal employees received nearly 3,000 COVID-19 claims, including 48 for death and paid out nearly $30,000 in medical benefits and compensation, as of June 2020.
Molly Weisner is a staff reporter for Federal Times where she covers labor, policy and contracting pertaining to the government workforce. She made previous stops at USA Today and McClatchy as a digital producer, and worked at The New York Times as a copy editor. Molly majored in journalism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.