This afternoon President Biden addressed reporters and laid out plans to slow the spread of the deadly Delta Variant and get more Americans vaccinated. Six months into the Biden Administration’s vaccination effort, 164 million Americans are fully vaccinated, including 80 percent of seniors and more than 60 percent of adults. This is significant progress, and as a result, the country and economy are in a stronger position than January 2021.
The country is now faced with a much more transmissible strain of this virus—the Delta variant. Biden said, “The good news is that we are prepared for this. We know how to stop it: get more people vaccinated.”
The President announced additional efforts to do just that—imposing requirements to protect federal workforce and those they serve, offering additional incentives for vaccination, and making it even easier for people, especially young people, to get themselves and their loved ones vaccinated.
Today’s actions include:
Strengthening Safety Protocols for Federal Employees and Federal Contractors
Every federal government employee and the onsite contractor will be asked to attest to their vaccination status. Anyone who does not attest to being fully vaccinated will be required to wear a mask on the job no matter their geographic location, physically distance from all other employees and visitors, comply with a weekly or twice-weekly screening testing requirement, and be subject to restrictions on official travel.
The federal government employs more than 4 million Americans, including over 2 million in the federal civilian workforce, throughout the country and across the world.
Biden said he has directed his team to take steps to apply similar standards to all federal contractors. The Administration will encourage employers across the private sector to follow this strong model.
Protecting Those Who Serve Our Country
The President announced that he is directing the Department of Defense to look into how and when they will add COVID-19 vaccination to the list of required vaccinations for members of the military. This is particularly important because our troops serve in places throughout the world—many where vaccination rates are low and disease is prevalent.
Earlier this week, like many health care employers across the country, the Department of Veterans Affairs took the step of requiring their health care providers and personnel to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Too many veterans have already lost their lives to this virus, and veterans and their families deserve nothing less than us doing everything we can to protect their health.
The public health, health care, and medical community are unified in support of these actions—on Monday, over 50 leading health care societies and organizations called for all health care and long-term care employers to require their workers to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
Expanding Paid Leave to Get Families and Kids Vaccinated
The President announced that small- and medium-sized businesses will now be reimbursed for offering their employees paid leave to get their family members, including their kids, vaccinated. In April, the President announced that, thanks to the American Rescue Plan (ARP), the federal government is fully reimbursing any small- or medium-sized business that provides workers with paid time off to get vaccinated.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, by the end of June, half of all workers in America had access to paid time-off for vaccinations, and 75% of workers who were offered paid time-off for vaccinations from their employer reported being vaccinated. The President will also call on employers who have not offered paid time off to their employees for vaccination to do so.
Calling on State and Local Governments to Offer $100 to Get Vaccinated
Biden also called on states, territories, and local governments to do more to incentivize vaccination, including offering $100 to those who get vaccinated.
When Kroger started offering $100 to their associates to get vaccinated, it saw vaccination rates increase from 50% to 75%. States like New Mexico, Ohio, and Colorado have piloted $100 incentive programs that have also helped move the dial on vaccinations.
According to research from the University of California, Los Angeles, roughly one-third of unvaccinated individuals said a cash payment would make them more likely to get a shot. The American Rescue Plan (ARP) provided states, territories, and localities resources that can be used to offer incentives to increase vaccination rates, and today, the President will call on every state, territory, and local government to use this ARP funding to provide $100 to anyone who gets vaccinated.
Increasing Vaccinations Among Adolescents as Kids Go Back to School
In an effort to get more kids 12 and older vaccinated, Biden is calling on school districts nationwide to host at least one pop-up vaccination clinic over the coming weeks. And, the Administration is directing pharmacies in the federal pharmacy program to prioritize this and to work with school districts across the country to host vaccination clinics at schools and colleges. In March, the Biden Administration prioritized K-12 educators, school staff, and child care workers for vaccinations.
This directive worked: Today, almost 90% of educators and school staff are vaccinated.
The President said he believes that every student—no matter their zip code—should have an easy and accessible way to get vaccinated. Vaccination is our leading public health strategy to end the COVID-19 pandemic—and it is our best way to prevent COVID outbreaks before they happen, so that schools and colleges can return to safe, in-person instruction all year long.