The Department of Veterans Affairs on Monday said its doctors and other health professionals have eight weeks to get vaccinated.
VA Secretary Denis McDonough said the requirement, which applies to Title 38 personnel like nurses, physician assistants and podiatrists, is needed to keep veterans safe.
“Whenever a veteran or VA employee sets foot in a VA facility, they deserve to know that we have done everything in our power to protect them from COVID-19. With this mandate, we can once again make — and keep — that fundamental promise,” he said.
He said four unvaccinated VA employees recently died from the virus, including three from the dreaded delta variant.
The decision is notable because it is the Biden administration’s first foray into mandating federal employees to get the shot.
President Biden confirmed the decision around VA “docs” during a visit from Iraq’s prime minister as the VA statement went live.
The president can order the military to get vaccinated but hasn’t done so yet — even as vaccine mandates gain traction at employers around the U.S.
Less than half of the U.S. population — 49% — is fully vaccinated, prompting some experts to call for more forceful measures.
Also Monday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said all city workers will have to get vaccinated or submit to weekly testing as of Sept. 13.
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