It's Official: No More COVID Vaccine Mandate for Federal Workers and Contractors
The move comes just days before the end of the public health emergency for COVID, and had been expected.
President Biden on Tuesday officially revoked the COVID-19 vaccine mandates for federal employees and contractors that had already been mired in lawsuits that prevented them from being enforced.
The mandates–issued in September 2021–will end on May 12, Biden said in an executive order. The move had been expected following an announcement from the White House earlier this month, and will coincide with the end of the COVID public health emergency on May 11.
The vaccine mandate is no longer necessary because the United States is “no longer in the acute phase of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the order stated, and the healthcare system is better able to respond to future surges in cases than it was when the mandates were issued. Biden also noted that 98% of federal workers had complied with the mandate by either receiving a dose of the vaccine or starting the process of receiving an exemption, as of January 2022.
“Considering this progress, and based on the latest guidance from our public health experts, we no longer need a governmentwide vaccination requirement for federal employees or federally specified safety protocols for federal contractors,” the order stated. “Vaccination remains an important tool to protect individuals from serious illness, but we are now able to move beyond these federal requirements.”
Federal employees and contractors likely will not notice much difference when the mandates end, because enforcement had already been suspended due to legal challenges. The military’s vaccine mandate had already been repealed, as part of the fiscal 2023 National Defense Authorization Act signed in late December.