WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration’s vaccine mandate for millions of federal workers seems to be working, with no apparent disruption to law enforcement, intelligence-gathering or holiday travel.

On Tuesday, one day after the deadline for compliance, 92% of the 3.5 million federal workers covered by Biden’s mandate reported to the government that they are at least partially vaccinated, according to White House officials.

According to White House data Wednesday, the Agency for International Development had the highest percentage of partial vaccines on Tuesday. It was followed closely by Department of Health and Human Services (96.4%) and State Department (96.1%).

However, law enforcement agencies lag behind vaccines with the Justice Department being at 89.8%. Although the Department of Veterans Affairs has 87.8% of the partial vaccines, the Defense Department had 93.4% while the Homeland Security Department had 88.9%. Agriculture Department with 86.1% was the government department with the lowest percentage of partial vaccinated workers.

Overall, however, 96% of federal workers have been found to be in compliance with this policy. This includes religious or medical exemptions, that are currently being reviewed. The rest are considered out of compliance, but officials emphasized that “it’s not a cliff,” and that workers will receive counseling to get vaccinated or file for an exemption. Then, termination would be possible.

“We know vaccine requirements work,” said White House assistant press secretary Kevin Munoz. “We hope that our implementation sends the clear message to businesses to move forward with similar measures that will protect their workforce, protect their customers, and protect our communities.”

White House officials stated that this data is only a snapshot. The numbers will rise over the next few days. The officials stated that there would be no interruptions in government services as they go through the additional vaccines or exceptions.

Since instituting the initial vaccine-or-test mandate this summer and then the more-restrictive requirement without a test-out option this fall, the White House has believed the federal government could serve as a model for the rest of the nation’s employers for how vaccinations could help shepherd a quicker return to the normal.

Officials from the White House say that the most valuable lesson businesses have learned is the following: Once they start to meet the requirements of the law, workers will soon follow.

According to the Internal Revenue Service, a mandate could increase the rate of vaccination. About 25% of the agency’s workforce first got a shot after Biden announced the mandate in September; now, 98% are in compliance.

Agencies with marginally lower vaccination rates tend to have widely dispersed workforces, making education and counseling about the benefits of vaccines — or even just the task of getting workers to self-report that they’ve already gotten a shot – more difficult.

Still, there is resistance. The union representing federal prison workers filed a lawsuit seeking to block the mandate, arguing it’s an unfair labor practice and violates employees’ free speech and privacy rights. Shane Fausey, the president of the Council of Prison Locals, said in a Wednesday letter to members that more than 3,500 federal Bureau of Prisons employees — about 10% of the agency’s workforce — were being issued counseling letters and face possible termination for not complying with the mandate.

Fausey’s letter repeated misinformation about the vaccine, including claims that it doesn’t stop the spread of COVID-19 and that it does not reduce the “overall adverse medical effects of the virus.” Lawyers Bruce Castor and Michael van der Veen, who represented former President Donald TrumpAre representing the union at his second impeachment trial.

According to Chris Stewart, Republican from Utah who is a member the House Intelligence Committee, at least 20% of intelligence agencies had their staff unvaccinated as of October.

Some of the initial fearsThe federal workforce’s vaccination status was affected by employees who did not have access to computers at the government to complete their vaccination certificates. Others, such as front-line Transportation Security Administration officials, don’t use computers from the government. Some are out in the field, or have delayed or failed to respond to the survey.

Federal vaccination rates are higher than the overall rate for Americans. More than 212,000,000 Americans have had at least one vaccine, which is 82.2%. About 71% of them, which is more than 183 million people, have been fully vaccinated.

This report was written by Michael R. Sisak (Associated Press).

Source: HuffPost.com.

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