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White House Extends Deadline to Early January for Private Sector Companies to Comply with Vaccine Mandates

White House Extends Deadline to Early January for Private Sector Companies to Comply with Vaccine Mandates

Employers in the private sector will have two months to ensure their workers are fully vaccinated or tested weekly under a new federal regulation detailed Thursday that will affect more than two-thirds of the country’s workforce. In Thursday’s announcement, the White House said it was extending the timeline for federal contractors to get fully vaccinated, pushing the previous December 8th deadline to January 4, 2022.

The requirements, which will cover an estimated 84 million workers, follow an executive order from President Joe Biden in September that said businesses with at least 100 employees must ensure their workers are fully vaccinated or undergoing weekly Covid-19 testing. The White House has issued a series of mandates for workers across the federal government and health care sector to encourage vaccinations after a surge of coronavirus infections overwhelmed hospitals and led to a spike in deaths over the summer.

Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Employers will be required to provide paid time off for workers to get vaccinated and recover from any side effects starting December 5th, the same day when unvaccinated employees will need to wear masks in the workplace. Any employer failing to meet the requirements by January 4th could face nearly $14,000 in fines for each employee who isn’t in compliance, a senior administration official said. Employees who are not fully vaccinated will be responsible for covering the cost of their own weekly testing.

Officials also said that health care workers will be required to have their employees vaccinated by January 4th if they want to receive payments from Medicare and Medicaid programs, as part of a separate executive order President Biden signed in September. There will be no testing opt-out option for health care workers, and the rule will apply to more than 17 million people, including trainees, volunteers, and contractors regardless of whether they interact with patients.

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More than 3,500 organizations, including private businesses, hospitals, schools, and local governments have already put vaccination requirements in place, and those requirements have increased vaccination rates by more than 20 percentage points to more than 90 percent, White House officials said last month.

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