President Joe Biden’s administration had previously been reluctant to support such measures, but now faces a problem.
variant-driven surge that is sweeping primarily among the tens of millions of unvaccinated Americans.
“Every time a VA veteran or employee steps foot in a VA facility, they deserve to know that we have done everything we can to protect them from Covid-19,” VA Secretary Denis McDonough said in a press release. .
“With this mandate, we can once again make, and keep, that fundamental promise.”
The statement added that four unvaccinated VA employees had died in recent weeks, all of whom were not vaccinated.
Staff such as doctors, dentists, podiatrists, optometrists, registered nurses, and others now have eight weeks to be fully vaccinated.
Earlier this month, VA officials said more than 70 percent of the agency’s 300,000 employees were fully vaccinated. The new order applies to 115,000 people, according to the Military Times.
The measure came as part of a broader change, with New York City announcing that city workers will need to be vaccinated or tested weekly, and California mandating a similar measure for its government employees, but also extending the rule to workers. private sector health.
The New York order will affect more than 300,000 city employees, including police officers, firefighters and teachers, and will take effect on Sept. 13, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday.
The California directive will apply to nearly 240,000 state workers and hundreds of thousands more private sector healthcare workers, and full compliance will be required by Aug. 21, according to a press release from Governor Gavin Newsom’s office.
Meanwhile, San Francisco Mayor London Breed said anyone hired by the city or county would need a vaccination before they could start their job, extending the scope of a mandate on existing city workers announced last week. .
The United States is in the midst of a surge driven by Delta, the most contagious variant of coronavirus identified to date, which now accounts for more than 89 percent of cases in the United States, according to estimates.
Some 52,000 people are infected every day, according to the Covid Act Now tracker.
Hotspots include the states of Arkansas, Florida, which accounts for nearly a quarter of all new cases, Louisiana, and Missouri.
All have lagged behind the national vaccination rate, but White House coronavirus coordinator Jeff Zients told reporters last week that these states were recently seeing higher immunization rates in light of the increase. of the summer.
Just over 49 percent of the total US population has been fully vaccinated, well below the 85 to 90 percent that experts now estimate is required for population immunity.
“We’re at about 67% (counting previous infections), so we need a lot more vaccines,” Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, tweeted about immunity on Sunday.
Meanwhile, controversy is mounting over the mandates.
On Monday, 57 medical groups representing millions of doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other healthcare workers called for mandatory vaccinations for all healthcare personnel.
A recent WebMD report of 2,500 hospitals showed that roughly one in four healthcare workers has not been vaccinated, primarily nurse aides, emergency medical technicians, and nurses.
While Democratic-led jurisdictions are implementing vaccine requirements, several Republican-led states have passed laws prohibiting such measures, particularly in schools.
But with the vast majority of Covid hospitalizations and deaths occurring among the unvaccinated, and the ranks of the unvaccinated with a politically conservative bias, there are now signs that Republican lawmakers are on the rise.
“These vaccines are saving lives,” Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said at a news conference last week.
And on Thursday number two, House Republican Steve Scalise joined the House Republican Doctors Group, a group of 18 lawmakers who are licensed medical experts, in telling Americans to “get vaccinated.” .