Biden expands vaccine mandate push to include thousands of HHS employees

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration on Thursday that all Health and Human Services employees who may come in contact with patients must receive the Covid vaccine, adding to a growing list of federal workers who will be mandated to get vaccinated.

The move will affect 25,000 workers, including those for the National Institutes of Health, the Commission Corp—medical workers who get deployed in health emergencies— and the Indian Health Services, the agency said. The requirement will also apply to contractors, trainees, and volunteers at HHS medical and clinical research facilities.

The administration has already mandated vaccinations for health care and nursing home workers for the Veterans Affairs administration and the Department of Defense said this week it would require members of the military to be vaccinated by mid-September. All federal workers will be either rehired to be vaccinated or undergo frequent testing.

“As President Biden has said, we are looking at every way we can to increase vaccinations to keep more people safe, and requiring our HHS health care workforce to get vaccinated will protect our federal workers, as well as the patients and people they serve,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement.

The administration has increasingly embraced mandates in recent weeks as the number of cases have surged in areas with low vaccination rates. Biden has been urging private sector employers to follow his lead and put their own vaccine mandates in place for their employees.

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