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Coronavirus Roundup: More Guidance for the Contractor Vaccine Mandate; State Dept. IG to Review Vaccine Rollout

There's a lot to keep track of. Here’s today’s list of news updates and stories you may have missed.

The Safer Federal Workforce Task Force published guidance on Friday from the Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council on how agencies should amend their contracts in order to comply with the vaccine mandate.

Also, on Thursday, the task force said in an update that “yes,” prime contractors should assume that subcontractors are complying with the new clause “unless the prime contractor has credible evidence otherwise.” More information can be found in the September 24 guidance. Here are some of the other recent headlines you might have missed. 

The Food and Drug Administration’s advisory committee will meet on October 14 and 15 to discuss the use of booster shots of the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. Also, “the FDA anticipates receiving a request from Pfizer to amend its emergency use authorization to allow the use of its COVID-19 vaccine in children 5 through 11 years of age,” said the FDA in a press release on Friday. “In anticipation of the request, the FDA is moving forward with scheduling an advisory committee meeting on Oct. 26 to inform the agency’s decision-making.” 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is looking for information on developing a vaccine status app for its staff, Meritalk reported. “According to a request for information, the agency – with a roughly 25,000-person global workforce – said it was looking to ‘understand contractors’ capabilities to provide electronically verifiable vaccination record and/or electronically verifiable test results for CDC personnel,’ ” said the report. “Further, CDC wants to understand contractors’ ability to import information to CDC personnel.” Submissions are due by October 5.

Following the news last week that the pharmaceutical company Merck will seek emergency use authorization for its oral antiviral COVID-19 treatment, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday that it’s “a false narrative” that vaccines won’t be necessary anymore if the treatment is approved.

If the drug is authorized, the federal government has made arrangements to buy 1.7 million doses and has an option for more, White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients noted during the coronavirus briefing on Friday. “If approved, I think the right way to think about this is this is a potential additional tool in our toolbox to protect people from the worst outcomes of COVID,” said Zients. “But I think it's really important to remember that vaccination, as we've talked about today, remains far and away our best tool against COVID-19. It can prevent you from getting COVID in the first place.”

The State Department inspector general office plans to review in fiscal 2022 the department’s vaccine rollout, according to a two-year work plan the IG office recently released. “The objective of this evaluation is to review how the under secretary for management and [Bureau of Medical Services] developed and used criteria to determine vaccine distribution for Department of State employees,” said the plan. “It will also examine any challenges in applying the criteria and determine general successes and failures of the vaccine rollout.” 

Upcoming: White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki will give a briefing at 1 p.m.

Help us understand the situation better. Are you a federal employee, contractor or military member with information, concerns, etc. about how your agency is handling the coronavirus? Email us at newstips@govexec.com.

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