Over nine out of 10 federal workers got a COVID-19 vaccine by the Nov. 22 deadline set by President Joe Biden, the White House said this week.
Workers were ordered to get a COVID-19 vaccine or an exemption. Those who didn’t face termination.
Some 92 percent of workers have gotten at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, the White House Office of Management and Budget said Wednesday.
Officials termed all of that group in compliance with the order, even though Biden instructed workers to become fully vaccinated.
Fully vaccinated currently refers to getting two Moderna or Pfizer shots or the single-shot Johnson & Johnson jab. The first two have been much more widely used during the COVID-19 pandemic.
At least 86 percent of each agency has been vaccinated, according to data released Wednesday.
The Agency for International Development, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of State, and National Science Foundation all have vaccination rates above 96 percent.
The Department of Agriculture, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Interior, Department of Justice, Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Social Security Administration are all under 90 percent.
When taking into account pending or approved exceptions, every agency has at least 95 percent compliance.
Another 4.5 percent of workers have a pending or approved exception request, according to the White House.
There are more than 3.5 million federal government employees.
That means over 12,000 workers are not in compliance with the order.
Those workers will receive “education and counseling,” White House COVID-19 response coordinator Jeffrey Zients told reporters during a virtual briefing this week.
Biden administration officials say the high compliance rates mean vaccination requirements work.
“They increase vaccination rates—leading to a safer, more productive, and efficient workforce. They’re good for workers, good for businesses, and good for the country. That’s why the president has called for businesses to follow the federal government’s lead and put these requirements into place right now,” the Office of Management and Budget said.
Vaccine effectiveness against infection drops over time, according to studies and real-world data. The shots have held up well against hospitalization and severe disease, especially in the young and healthy, the data indicate.
The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), which represents over 670,000 federal workers, called last week for Biden to delay the deadline until Jan. 18, 2022, to align with the recently-pushed back deadline for federal contractors.
Everett Kelley, president of the union, wrote in a letter to Zients and other officials that the disparate deadlines were a “double standard” that “has caused confusion and distress among federal employees due to disparate treatment and incongruent deadlines for people who perform the government’s work in the same settings.”
AFGE declined to immediately respond to the deadline remaining in place and the compliance rates.