Federal employees across the government are increasingly complying with the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate, whether by getting the vaccine or applying for exemption, as the date for more stringent enforcement measures looms.

According to numbers released by the Office of Management and Budget Dec. 9, the federal government is at 97.2% compliance and 92.5% vaccination as of Dec. 8. Those numbers represent a 0.7 point increase in compliance and a 0.5 point increase in vaccinations since the Nov. 22 deadline.

With such a large workforce subject to the vaccine mandate, even percentage increases below 1% represent a large number of employees newly complying with the requirement. Approximately 17,500 employees received at least an initial vaccine dose since the Nov. 22 deadline, and approximately 7,000 employees applied for an exemption, based on the percentage changes.

The National Science Foundation and the Department of Education lead the major federal agencies in compliance rates, with 99.9% of both workforces in compliance with White House requirements. The U.S. Agency for International Development continues to lead major agencies in vaccination rates, with 98.1% of its workforce vaccinated.

And though all federal agencies surpassed 95% compliance as of Dec. 8, the Environmental Protection Agency holds the worst employee compliance at 95.6%. The Department of Agriculture has the lowest vaccination rate at 88.1%, closely followed by the Department of Veterans Affairs at 88.5%.

OMB and the Office of Personnel Management recently encouraged agencies to hold off on more stringent enforcement measures for employees that haven’t complied with the mandate, instructing them to continue with only counseling and education programs until the start of the new year.

In total, approximately 98,000 of the 3.5 million covered federal employees remain out of compliance with the vaccine mandate and could face suspension or removal proceedings if they continue to be so at the start of 2022.

Jessie Bur covers federal IT and management.

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