Hopefully this will be the first of many:
The Department of Veterans Affairs will require 115,000 of its frontline health care workers to be vaccinated against the coronavirus in the next two months, making it the first federal agency to mandate that employees be inoculated, government officials said on Monday.
The move comes as concern is growing that the substantial portion of the population that has not been vaccinated is contributing to the rapid spread of the highly contagious Delta variant. While it was a sharp departure from the Biden administration’s reluctance to embrace mandates, it was part of a broader shift in which New York City, many hospital chains and some private employers are deciding that the time has come to make being vaccinated a requirement.
“I am doing this because it’s the best way to keep our veterans safe, full stop,” Denis McDonough, the secretary of veterans affairs, said in a telephone interview on Monday. The department is one of the largest federal employers and is the biggest integrated health care system in the country.
The mandate will apply to workers who are “the most patient-facing,” Mr. McDonough said, including doctors, dentists, registered nurses, physician assistants and some specialists. Beginning on Wednesday, those health care workers will have eight weeks to get fully vaccinated or face penalties including possible removal, he said.
There should be nothing “possible” about it unless they have a very good reason.
The FDA’s apparent lack of urgency in giving full approval to what is by all credible accounts a safe and historically effective vaccine is what it is, but except where it’s required to by black letter law it’s no reason for the Biden administration or anyone else who can practically impose a mandate to wait. (Anywhere there’s already a requirement for employees/students to take vaccines, for example, COVID-19 should be immediately added. Unless you’re in a jurisdiction where DeSeantis or one of his fellow Trumpian sociopaths have decreed that COVID-19 should be treated differently than all other vaccinations because FREEDUMB.) We need both to get more people vaccinated and to send a signal that the vaccines are at least as safe as the other ones that are routinely required. And there’s no more a “right” for people who interact with others not to be vaccinated than there’s a “right” to drive on a crowded street after you’ve put down a six pack of Old Rasputin.
Governor Gavin Newsom and California health officials have announced a vaccine verification and testing program that will be implemented for all state employees and health care workers starting in August.
Workers will need to have evidence of vaccination by August 2. Anyone state employees who are unvaccinated will have to undergo mandated COVID-19 testing and wear masks.
The new vaccination verification program applies to health care workers too. If health care workers do not vaccinate, they will be subject to testing two times per week. There will also be a recommendation for unvaccinated workers to wear N95 masks.