October 4, 2023

A health worker prepares to administer a dose of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine at Khagendra Navajeevan Kendra, a rehabilitation center for people with disabilities, in Kathmandu.

SOPA pictures | LightRakete | Getty Images

WASHINGTON – The Department of Veterans Affairs will require its health workers to receive the Covid-19 vaccine, making it the first major federal agency to implement such a mandate as the highly transmissible Delta variant spreads across the country as the Vaccinations stalled.

“Veterans affairs will actually require that all doctors who work in facilities must be vaccinated,” said President Joe Biden on Monday in the Oval Office along with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al Kadhimi.

Veteran Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough described the new measure as “the best way to protect veterans”.

“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 keep them safe from COVID-19. With this assignment, we can again make and keep that fundamental promise. ”McDonough wrote in a statement.

The mandate, first reported in the New York Times, requires more than 100,000 frontline healthcare workers to accept vaccinations for the coronavirus within the next two months.

The mandate applies to doctors, dentists, podiatrists, optometrists, nurses, medical assistants and chiropractors who work in or visit VA health facilities, as well as to those who care for VA patients directly.

The move follows rising U.S. coronavirus cases, in part related to the highly transmissible Delta variant and vaccine rejection by a significant segment of the population.

According to a CNBC analysis of Johns Hopkins University data, the weekly average of daily new Covid infections in the US is nearly 52,000, up 61% from the previous week. On July 5, the seven-day average of the country’s daily new infections was just below 12,000.

On the previous Monday, California and New York City government officials announced in separate press conferences that all state employees must provide evidence of vaccination or be regularly tested for the virus.

In California, government employees who remain unvaccinated through August 2 are required to present a negative Covid test at least once a week.

“We are at a point in this epidemic, this pandemic, where the decision, the individual’s decision not to get vaccinated, now affects the rest of us [a] profound and devastating and deadly, “Governor Gavin Newsom said on Monday.” This decision has led to a surge in the number of cases, growing concerns about rising death rates and, apparently, hospitalizations. “

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city will require its more than 300,000 employees to get vaccinated or tested weekly by September 13. Last week New York City passed a vaccination mandate for all health care workers in city hospitals and clinics.

– CNBC’s Kevin Stankiewicz contributed to this report from New York.