Requirements intended to boost vaccinations
President Joe Biden announced sweeping new vaccination requirements on Thursday that could impact as many as 100 million Americans as part of the administration’s latest attempt to boost the nation’s vaccination rate.
During remarks at the White House, Mr. Biden directed the Labor Department to require that all businesses with 100 or more employees require vaccination or weekly COVID-19 testing. In addition, the president said he will require the 17 million Medicare and Medicare healthcare workers to be fully vaccinated.
Workers who do not comply with a vaccine or testing requirement in the workplace could face a fine of up to $14,000 per violation, The Associated Press reported. The requirement will be enacted by forthcoming guidance from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
The new vaccine requirements come as the latest push in the Biden administration’s efforts to address the recent rise in COVID-19 infection. During a speech at the White House on Thursday, Mr. Biden criticized the more than 80 million eligible Americans who have not received the COVID-19 vaccine, saying the Americans who have gotten their shot are growing “frustrated” with those who have not.
“We’ve been patient, but our patience is wearing thin,” Mr. Biden said. “Your refusal has cost all of us.”
Mr. Biden also announced Thursday he is signing an executive order to require vaccination for executive branch employees and contractors who do business with the federal government. Employees will not have an option to opt out of being vaccinated, and the administration estimates this will cover about seven million workers.
Under this requirement, federal workers will have 75 days to get fully vaccinated or risk losing their job, though certain medical and religious exemptions will apply, according to the White House.
Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, told reporters that the executive branch “would like to be a model” for other organizations and businesses across the country.
According to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 208 million Americans have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and over 177 million are fully vaccinated. Of the country’s eligible 12 and older population, 73.4% have received at least one dose and 62.5% are fully vaccinated.