President Joseph R. Biden Jr. has reacted to vaccination requirements for U.S. workers starting January 4, 2022, saying that “the choice is simple: get more people vaccinated, or prolong this pandemic and its impact on our country.”
Biden said the virus will not go away by itself or “because wish it away: We have to act.”
He wrote, “For our country, the choice is simple: get more people vaccinated, or prolong this pandemic and its impact on our country. The virus will not go away by itself, or because we wish it away: we have to act. Vaccination is the single best pathway out of this pandemic. And while I would have much preferred that requirements not become necessary, too many people remain unvaccinated for us to get out of this pandemic for good. So I instituted requirements – and they are working. They protect our workers and have helped us reduce the number of unvaccinated Americans over the age of 12 from approximately 100 million in late July when I began requirements to just about 60 million today.
“Vaccination requirements are good for the economy. They not only increase vaccination rates but they help send people back to work – as many as 5 million American workers. They make our economy more resilient in the face of COVID and keep our businesses open.
“Today, the Labor Department issued its rule requiring COVID-19 vaccinations for companies with 100 or more employees. If you work for one of these companies you will either need to get vaccinated or test at least weekly.
“Also today, the Department of Health and Human Services released its rule to ensure that our nation’s healthcare workers are vaccinated. No one should be at risk when they seek medical care.
“Together, these rules will cover about 100 million Americans – two-thirds of all workers in America.
“As we’ve seen with businesses – large and small – across all sectors of our economy, the overwhelming majority of Americans choose to get vaccinated. There have been no “mass firings” and worker shortages because of vaccination requirements. Despite what some predicted and falsely assert, vaccination requirements have broad public support.
“And vaccination requirements are nothing new. We’ve been living with them throughout our lives for all sorts of diseases. Safety rules in the workplace are nothing new either. We require hard hats in construction sites and safety goggles in labs. And with today’s actions, we now have requirements to protect people from something that has taken the lives of 750,000 Americans.
“I’m calling on employers to act. Businesses have more power than ever before to accelerate our path out of this pandemic, save lives, and protect our economic recovery.”
Two new vaccine rules would require U.S. companies to ask their workers to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by January 4, 2022, the White House announced on Thursday morning.
The regulation, by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), would apply to companies with more than 100 employees. Their employees must comply with the regulation or opt for weekly tests if they refuse to get vaccinated.
The OSHA rule is expected to be challenged in court by some businesses and several Republican states.
Apart from OSHA, the White House said the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is also issuing a rule to require health care workers in facilities partnering in Medicare and Medicaid to be fully vaccinated by January 4.
The CMS rule is expected to cover 17 million workers at approximately 76,000 health care facilities nationwide.
While the OSHA rule allows for testing for workers who refuse to be vaccinated, the CMS rule does not. It does allow for medical and religious exemptions.
The OSHA and the CMS rules are both expected to affect more than 100 million American workers who would need to be fully vaccinated by January 4, 2022.
The White House added on Thursday that it would extend its federal contractor vaccine mandate deadline from December 8 to January 4.