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Biden broadens vaccine mandates for federal, healthcare workers: What you need to know

Federal employees will be required to get the vaccine.


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For the most up-to-date news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, visit the WHO and CDC websites.

Saying “We can and we will turn the tide on COVID-19,” President Joe Biden on Thursday rolled out his administration’s plan to get its arms around the pandemic by mandating vaccine shots across federal employees and contractors, businesses with over 100 employees and health care workers at Medicare and Medicaid health care facilities. Biden said the plan would reach 100 million US workers, about two-thirds of the US workforce.

The goal behind the mandates is straightforward. Biden wants to increase the number of fully vaccinated people to curb the spread of the disease and stifle any new variants from surfacing. “Many of us are frustrated with the nearly 80 million Americans who are still not vaccinated, even though the vaccine is safe and effective and free,” Biden said.

Here’s what you need to know about who’s required to get COVID vaccines under the new administration plan, as well as the latest on booster shots and vaccines for kids.

Biden broadens vaccine mandates for federal, healthcare workers: What you need to know


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Who falls under the new Biden administration vaccine mandate

Announcing “a new plan to require more Americans to be vaccinated to combat those blocking public health,” Biden rolled out his administration’s “Path out of the Pandemic” plan, a program that will work to increase the vaccination rate of the unvaccinated by requiring shots across public and private sectors. 

Here’s who would be required to be vaccinated under the new plan:

  • Employers with 100 or more employees will be required to have their employees either be fully vaccinated or get tested weekly to come to work.
  • Federal workers and employees of contractors that do business with the federal government will be required to be vaccinated.
  • Workers in health care facilities that receive Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements, including hospitals and home health agencies.

The president also called on entertainment venues such as sports arenas and large concert halls to require proof of vaccination or a negative test to enter their facilities.

Members of the US military must get the vaccine

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III said in a memorandum on Aug. 25 that all service members of the Department of Defense will need to be vaccinated. The directive covers all members of the Armed Forces on active duty or in the Ready Reserve, which includes the National Guard.

For now, the Defense Department will only require the Pfizer vaccine, but the choices will be expanded once other vaccines receive FDA approval. People who have received the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines will still be considered fully vaccinated.

“These efforts ensure the safety of our service members and promote the readiness of our force, not to mention the health and safety of the communities around the country in which we live,” Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby said during a briefing.

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In some cities, you’ll be required to show proof of vaccination to enter many indoor places.


Natalie Weinstein/CNET

Many states are banning COVID-19 vaccine requirements

At least 20 states, including Arkansas, Florida and Texas, prohibit proof of vaccination requirements. That means businesses, schools and local government institutions cannot enforce a vaccine mandate (the same goes for requiring face masks). The prohibitions came into effect through either legislation or executive orders. 

Some states are trying to prevent private employers, as well as the state, from requiring vaccines, according to the National Academy for State Health Policy. Some are also trying to prevent use of vaccine passports, which show proof you’ve been vaccinated against coronavirus.

Biden broadens vaccine mandates for federal, healthcare workers: What you need to know


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Other organizations that can require COVID-19 vaccinations

Here are some businesses and organizations that legally can ask for proof of vaccination before allowing someone on their premises.

  • Cruise lines
  • Airlines
  • Restaurants and bars
  • Concert halls and event halls
  • Health care facilities
  • Employers
  • Schools

For more information, here’s what to know about breakthrough infections among the fully vaccinated. Also, here’s what we know about the delta plus variant.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.

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