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Federal Contractor COVID-19 Vaccine Deadline Pushed Back to January

The deadline aligns with the Biden administration’s other new vaccine rules, but is more than six weeks after federal employees are required to receive their shots. 

The deadline for the vaccine mandate for federal contractors will be pushed back about a month to January 4, 2022, the White House announced on Thursday. 

The announcement came as the White House rolled out details for new vaccine rules on Thursday: one from the Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration and another from Health and Human Services’ Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. President Biden had announced these vaccine mandates and ones for federal employees and contractors on September 9. The deadline for employees of federal contractors to complete their vaccination or claim an exemption was initially December 8. 

“Federal contractors may have some workplaces subject to requirements for federal contractors and other workplaces subject to the newly-released COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing [emergency temporary standard],” said a fact-sheet from the White House. “To make it easy for all employers to comply with the requirements, the deadline for the federal contractor vaccination requirement will be aligned with those for the [Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services] rule and the [emergency temporary standard],” which is January 4, 2022. 

“This will make it easier for employers to ensure their workforce is vaccinated, safe and healthy, and ensure that federal contractors implement their requirements on the same timeline as other employers in their industries,” said the White House. “And, the newly-released [emergency temporary standard] will not be applied to workplaces subject to the federal contractor requirement or [Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services] rule, so employers will not have to track multiple vaccination requirements for the same employees.” 

The OSHA rule applies to private businesses with 100 or more employees, and there is a testing option if employees decline to get vaccinated. The CMS vaccine mandate applies to health care workers at facilities participating in Medicare or Medicaid programs. 

The most recent guidance from the Biden administration’s Safer Federal Workforce Task Force, released on Monday, says that covered contractors should “determine the appropriate means of enforcement” for employees who do not get vaccinated and gives some suggestions for actions to take.