White House Covid officials urge employers to mandate vaccines: ‘Now is the time’

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, testifies at a Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions hearing at the Dirksen Senate Office Building July 20, 2021 in Washington, DC.

Stefani Reynolds | Getty Images

White House Covid officials called on private employers to prescribe vaccines at a briefing Tuesday, the day after the Food and Drug Administration gave Pfizer full approval for its coronavirus vaccine.

Many companies responded to the surge in Covid cases this summer by introducing vaccine requirements for all or part of their U.S. employees, including Google, Facebook, and United Airlines. But others have avoided vaccine mandates, both to give the FDA time to approve a full license and to deter vaccine-reluctant workers from leaving the country.

“If you’re a company, nonprofit, state or local leader who has waited for full and final FDA approval before implementing vaccination regulations, now is the time,” said Jeffrey Zients, Coronavirus Response Coordinator of the White House at the briefing. “You have the power to protect your communities and to help end the pandemic through vaccination regulations.”

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission allows vaccination mandates to anyone returning to the office as long as companies grant exemptions under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Civil Rights Act of 1964, mask and vaccine requirements in government, education, and the private sector.

The briefing comes after President Joe Biden on Monday asked companies and local officials to impose vaccine mandates in view of the FDA’s full approval. Biden had previously announced that federal employees will have to undergo weekly Covid tests and wear masks if they choose not to vaccinate, with his administration issuing similar guidelines for health and social welfare and veterans affairs.

“Do what I did last month: ask your employees to get vaccinated or to be strict,” said Biden on Monday.

The vaccination could help us get Covid-19 under control by spring 2022, according to the President’s senior medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci.

“I would like to appeal to the people in the country who are not vaccinated to recognize that we have the opportunity to substantially shorten the time frame until the end of this pandemic,” Fauci said during the briefing on Tuesday. “Get vaccinated and the time frame will be shortened dramatically.”

According to a CNBC analysis of data from Johns Hopkins University, the US reported a seven-day average of more than 150,000 new coronavirus cases on Monday, up 12% from a week. Motivated by the highly transferable Delta variant, some local governments have already started to enforce vaccination regulations at selected companies.

In San Francisco, customers of the city’s indoor restaurants, gyms, and entertainment centers are now required to provide proof of a full vaccination upon entry, while employees must do so by October 13, customers and employees are only required to receive one dose of vaccine by September 13 .

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