Becerra: ‘Our Number One Goal Is the Health and Safety of the American Public, Including Our Federal Workforce’
Action Will Impact More Than 25,000 Workers at IHS, NIH, and Members of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps
To increase vaccination coverage and protect more people from COVID-19, including the more transmissible Delta variant, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will require more than 25,000 members of its health care workforce to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
Staff at the Indian Health Service (IHS) and National Institutes of Health (NIH) who serve in federally-operated health care and clinical research facilities and interact with, or have the potential to come into contact with, patients will be required to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. This includes employees, contractors, trainees, and volunteers whose duties put them in contact or potential contact with patients at an HHS medical or clinical research facility.
Additionally, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy will immediately require members of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps to be vaccinated against COVID-19 as part of medical readiness procedures to prepare for any potential deployment need as emergency responders.
“Our number one goal is the health and safety of the American public, including our federal workforce. And vaccines are the best tool we have to protect people from COVID-19, prevent the spread of the Delta variant, and save lives,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “As President Biden has said, we have to do all we can to increase vaccinations to keep more people safe. Instructing our HHS health care workforce to get vaccinated will protect our federal workers and the patients and people they serve.”
IHS, NIH and the Commissioned Corps already require such personnel to receive the seasonal influenza vaccine and other routine vaccinations, with processes for medical and religious exemptions, and all agencies would implement this new COVID-19 vaccination requirement using the same processes that are already in place for these other vaccines.
HHS is the latest department within the Biden-Harris Administration to implement vaccine requirements for members of its workforce. Recently, the Department of Veterans Affairs took the common-sense and important step of requiring their health care providers and personnel to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Similarly, the Department of Defense announced a plan to add the COVID-19 vaccine to the list of required vaccinations for our service members in the coming weeks.