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These Federal Agencies Are Keeping Their Vaccine Mandates...for Now

AP Photo/LM Otero

The Biden administration announced on Monday that after 18 months, it would finally be ending its vaccine mandate for federal employees, federal contractors, and international travelers next week when the COVID public health emergency comes to a close. Additionally, vaccine mandates for Head Start educators and CMS-certified facilities would also end soon.

"While vaccination remains one of the most important tools in advancing the health and safety of employees and promoting the efficiency of workplaces, we are now in a different phase of our response when these measures are no longer necessary," the White House said in a statement. 

But one of the largest federal agencies is keeping its mandate in place for now. 

In a message to employees, Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough said the White House's announcement "will not impact" the VA, according to The Epoch Times, which reviewed the note.

"To ensure the safety of Veterans and our colleagues, VA health care personnel will still be required to be vaccinated at this time," he said. "As we transition to this new phase of our response to the pandemic, the vaccine (including booster shots) remains the best way to protect you, your families, your colleagues, and Veterans from COVID-19."

Like the VA, the National Institutes of Health and the Indian Health Service have their own requirements and will keep vaccine mandates in place while the agencies review them. 

White House COVID-19 coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha told the Associated Press that he doesn't see the mandates as necessary anymore. 

"We don't have a national mandate for flu vaccines in the same way, and yet we see pretty good uptake of flu vaccines," he said. "The goal here really is to continue to encourage people to get vaccinated, but I don't think mandates are going to be necessary for getting Americans vaccinated against COVID in the future."

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