HHS requires well being employees to be vaccinated towards Covid-19

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Covid-19 vaccinations will be required for the 25,000+ health care workers and volunteers who work in the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs, Minister Xavier Becerra said Thursday.

Indian Health Service (IHS) and National Institutes of Health (NIH) personnel who work in government-operated health care and clinical research facilities who interact with or have the potential to come into contact with patients must receive the Covid-19 vaccine, “Becerra said in a statement.

The secretary said compulsory vaccination would apply to “employees, contractors, trainees and volunteers whose duties bring them into contact or potential contact with patients at an HHS medical or clinical research facility.”

An HHS official said the requirement is expected to go into effect in late September.

In addition, US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy announced on Thursday that members of the public health corps will also need to be vaccinated. Those public health officials are included in the number of 25,000, an HHS official said.

The vaccine requirements are the latest move by the White House to require or encourage vaccine mandates to urgently ramp up vaccinations in the face of the Delta variant. The announcements add to a growing list of vaccine requirements put in place for their employees by various federal agencies and agencies in the past few days. On Monday, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said he wanted all active members of the U.S. military to be vaccinated against the virus, and last month President Joe Biden announced that all federal employees would have to certify vaccination against Covid-19 or face strict protocols.

The HHS statement stated that “IHS, NIH and the Commissioned Corps are already requiring these personnel to receive the seasonal flu vaccine and other routine vaccinations, with procedures for medical and religious exemptions.”

“As President Biden said, we are exploring all options to increase vaccinations to keep more people safe. “Said Becerra.

The Department of Veterans Affairs will also expand its vaccine mandate for health care workers in Veterans Health Administration facilities on Friday, which will require vaccination of most of the staff, volunteers and contractors in those facilities, according to a release from the department. The mandate previously applied to the doctors working in these facilities.

With the expanded mandate, this list will be expanded to include employees such as psychologists, pharmacists, social workers, nursing assistants, physiotherapists, respiratory therapists, peer specialists, medical assistants, engineers, housekeepers and other clinical, administrative and infrastructural employees who come into contact with VA patients and medical staff, according to the department.

After the administration first focused on increasing the vaccine supply and then increasing the vaccinations through incentives, the administration is now focusing on the needs and “unique ability” of employers to vaccinate more adults.

A White House official said Biden’s requirement that all federal employees certify that they have been vaccinated or undergo regular coronavirus tests was set after discussions with business leaders to establish a model for the private sector. Several large companies have since followed suit and have introduced similar requirements in the past few weeks.

The White House now hopes the latest requirements on HHS and VA will help “keep this snowball moving” towards more vaccine requirements in the private sector, the official said.

The White House Coronavirus Response Team is considering a number of other measures to bolster vaccinations and roll back efforts by Republican governors to ban mask mandates.

“We will continue to examine every lever the federal government can pull,” said a White House official.

CNN’s Barbara Starr, Kaitlan Collins and Zachary Cohen contributed to this report.

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