Thousands of federal workers ignored President Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate, with thousands more seeking exceptions from the policy, according to data released by the White House Wednesday.
Biden’s mandate impacts roughly 3.5 million civilian and military employees and the Office of Management and Budget said 92 percent of those workers got at least one shot by a Tuesday deadline. By comparison, 82.1 percent of all US adults have had at least one shot.
Of the remaining federal workers, OMB said 4.5 percent (approximately 157,500) sought exceptions for religious or medical reasons — or requested more time to comply — and another 3.5 percent (approximately 122,500) broke the rule without asking permission.
The Transportation Department, led by Secretary Pete Buttigieg, had the highest compliance rate at 99.6 percent, though only 90.6 percent of workers had at least one shot and another 9 percent sought an exception or extension.
Despite thousands of workers disregarding the mandate, the OMB insisted the data showed its “successful implementation.”
According to a new report, several thousand federal workers have ignored President Biden’s mandate to get the COVID-19 vaccine. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein/File Photo
Workers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory protest outside JPL in Pasadena, California, against a US government mandate requiring all federal employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images
“This is across the largest workforce in the United States, with more than 3.5 million employees working in every part of the country and around the world covered by this requirement,” the agency said in a statement. “And the Federal Government has implemented its vaccination requirement without disruptions to critical services people depend on.
“As the successful implementation of this requirement across the Federal Government has shown, these requirements work,” OMB went on. “[T]hey increase vaccination rates — leading to a safer, more productive, and efficient workforce.”
Members of the US civil service are nearly impossible to fire. With the Tuesday deadline passed, the White House said that “agencies are beginning a period of education and counseling, followed by additional enforcement steps” that could include discipline.
Out of all the federal departments, the Transportation Department had the highest vaccination rate at 99.6 percent.REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/File Photo
“This next stage of the process will not result in disruptions to Government services and operations and will result in more employees becoming vaccinated,” the press release said.
Agency-specific data showed that the Department of Agriculture had the lowest rate of vaccination, with 86.1 percent getting at least one shot, another 9.5 percent of USDA workers seeking an exception or extension, and 4.4 percent refusing to comply.
The US Agency for International Development had the highest vaccination rate, with 97.8 percent of workers having got at least one shot. The State Department also boasted a high inoculation rate, at 96.1 percent.
Data for the Defense Department showed that 93.4 percent of employees — including civilians and active-duty troops — got at least one shot, another 2.7 percent offered an excuse and 3.9 percent failed to comply.
The data do not include the US Postal Service, which falls under a separate Labor Department rule requiring employers with 100 or more employees to impose their own vaccine mandates or allow vaccine refusers to submit to weekly testing and mask-wearing while at work. That policy was set to take effect in January, but has been paused by a federal appeals court after 26 states sued.