This morning, the White House released updated Covid-19 vaccination guidelines. This update includes a nearly month-long delay in the mandate implementation. Previously, all federal workers and contractors must have either been fully vaccinated or granted some form of extension or accommodation by December 8, 2022. Fully vaccinated means two weeks following the final dose, meaning the actual deadline was early November for employees to begin the two-shot cycle of Pfizer or Moderna.
The new deadline also comes with updated recommendations from OSHA.
Today, the White House released new vaccination policies from OSHA, Medicare and Medicaid, and the federal workforce. The policies now have one date for full vaccination: January 4, 2022.
OSHA is extending the vaccination requirement to employers with 100 or more employees (this means if they are not federal contractors or subcontractors). Employees may either get vaccinated or submit to, at a minimum, weekly testing. Employers will also be required to provide paid time-off for employees to get vaccinated, and ensure all unvaccinated employees comply with masking requirements.
When it comes to healthcare workers, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is bringing the requirement to healthcare facilities as well. Generally, facilities participating in Medicare and Medicaid will be required to follow the same vaccination and testing requirements.
A major point of contention is how employers and contractors should comply with these requirements in states where their state laws are in opposition to these new requirements. The requirement unequivocally states, “And, both OSHA and CMS are making clear that their new rules to preempt any inconsistent state or local laws, including laws that ban or limit an employer’s authority to require vaccination, masks, or testing.” In short, this new guidance makes clear that federal vaccine rules outrank any state attempting to undercut or ban these requirements from taking effect.
This new guidance seeks to broaden the requirement, while streamlining the implementation of the rules. The requirement to be fully vaccinated is now January 4 across the federal government. Employers and facilities should prepare now for this new reality. We’ll keep you updated on this issue here at SmallGovCon and our other social media outlets.
Questions about this post? Or need help with a government contracting legal issue? Email us or give us a call at 785-200-8919.