Governors in California and New York have announced COVID-19 vaccine mandates for state employees — some of the first instances of government vaccination requirements seen as cases rise and inoculation rates slow across the country.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, was the first to impose such a mandate, announcing on Monday that he would impose a “first-in-the-nation standard” to require all state employees and workers in health care and “high-risk congregate” settings to prove that they are fully vaccinated or be tested at least once per week.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo followed suit on Wednesday with a similar requirement for government workers in his state.
“It’s smart, it’s fair, it’s in everyone’s interest and it will put us one step closer to defeating this beast once and for all,” said Cuomo, a Democrat, during a news conference where he announced the mandate.
Other governors might soon follow their lead. An official for Democratic Gov. Kate Brown of Oregon told The Associated Press on Wednesday that the administration is “examining” the possibility of requiring state workers to get vaccinated.
President Joe Biden announced his own vaccine mandate for federal employees on Thursday, after the Department of Veterans Affairs became the first federal agency to institute such a requirement. Federal workers who cannot prove full vaccination will be required to wear a mask on the job and be tested weekly or twice weekly, among other restrictions, according to a White House fact sheet.
“If you’re not vaccinated, you’re not nearly as smart as I thought you were,” Biden told reporters in McLean, Virginia, on Tuesday.
Governors, especially in Republican-run states, have previously sought to go as far as outlawing vaccine requirements or so-called vaccine passports. Several Republican leaders have responded defiantly to new masking guidance from public health officials, according to the AP. But at least one Republican governor, Kay Ivey of Alabama, recently criticized unvaccinated residents amid a spike in cases in her state.
“It’s time to start blaming the unvaccinated folks, not the regular folks,” Ivey said on July 22, according to The Washington Post. “It’s the unvaccinated folks that are letting us down.”
Officials are exploring ways to boost lagging vaccination rates and slow a recent surge of infections due to the rapidly spreading delta variant. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday adjusted its mask guidance for fully vaccinated people, citing “worrisome” new data. In response, some states, such as Kansas, are re-issuing at least partial mask mandates.
Vaccine hesitancy continues to be a problem in parts of the country. Data released on July 14 through the U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey shows that while hesitancy has declined nationally from 21.6% between Jan. 6-18 to 10.8% between June 23 and July 5, rates remain high in certain states.
The populations most hesitant to get vaccinated are in Wyoming (25.6%), West Virginia (22.4%), North Dakota (22.2%) and Alaska (20.5%). The most common reasons nationwide are concerns about side effects (50.6%) and a lack of trust in COVID-19 vaccines (47.6%), according to the bureau’s survey.
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These Governors Are Mandating the COVID-19 Vaccine for Government Employees originally appeared on usnews.com