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White House Clarifies Contractor Vaccination Deadline

GSA launched a tracker this week to monitor compliance with the mandate.

The White House clarified in new guidance that employees of federal contractors must be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus by January 18. 

“Covered contractor employees must be fully vaccinated no later than January 18, 2022,” unless they are granted an exemption, said updated guidance from the Biden administration’s Safer Federal Workforce Task Force released on Wednesday. “After that date, all covered contractor employees must be fully vaccinated by the first day of the period of performance on a newly awarded covered contract, and by the first day of the period of performance on an exercised option or extended or renewed contract when the clause has been incorporated into the covered contract.” 

Last week, the White House pushed the vaccine deadline for contractors from December 8 to January 4 to align with mandates issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Those requirements, according to the White House at the time, meant contractors “will need to have their final vaccination dose—either their second dose of Pfizer or Moderna, or single dose of Johnson & Johnson—by January 4, 2022.” 

The task force said in new guidance that “people are considered fully vaccinated for COVID-19 two weeks after they have received the second dose in a two-dose series, or two weeks after they have received a single-dose vaccine.” January 18 falls two weeks after January 4.

Separately, a federal appeals court has put a temporary hold on the OSHA rule. 

On Tuesday the American Federation of Government Employees, the nation’s largest federal employee union, called for the deadline for federal employees––currently November 22––to also be pushed back. This means that federal employees had to get their final shot, or request a religious or medical exemption, by earlier this week. 

This date change for contractors means that recipients of the Moderna or Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines must have their first dose by at least January 4. The new guidance also says there is sample signage that contractors and subcontractors can post in their workplaces about safety protocols for fully vaccinated and not fully vaccinated individuals. It also clarifies that covered contractor employees who work in federal buildings must also abide by any safety requirements there. 

The Office of Management and Budget did not immediately respond to a request for comment about why there was a change. 

In related news, the General Services Administration launched an interactive dashboard this week to track contractors’ progress in modifying their contracts to implement the vaccine mandate. It allows users to search by contractor name, business size, contract vehicle and Data Universal Numbering System number.

Correction: An earlier version of this article said the deadline was pushed back a second time. The story and headline have been corrected.