The Department of Veterans Affairs became the first federal agency to require its employees receive the COVID-19 vaccine today. The VA has made its mandatory vaccination announcement at a complex new threshold in the pandemic: as more than half the US population has received both doses of the vaccine, a significantly more contagious variant of the virus, known as the delta variant, is making cases spike across the country–and the world.
“With more than 300 million doses administered in the United States and nearly 4 billion doses administered worldwide, we know the vaccines are safe and highly effective at preventing severe illness and death from COVID-19,” said Dr. Susan Bailey, immediate past president of the American Medical Association. “Increased vaccinations among health care personnel will not only reduce the spread of COVID-19 but also reduce the harmful toll this virus is taking within the health care workforce and those we are striving to serve.”
New York City and California have also come forward with new COVID guidelines for city and state workers. While not making vaccinations mandatory, employees who are not vaccinated will require weekly testing.
The VA will be making vaccinations a requirement for its medical personnel which includes physicians, dentists, podiatrists, optometrists, registered nurses, physician assistants and any other employee that provides medical care to veterans.
VA employees have eight weeks to get their vaccine.
“It’s the best way to keep veterans safe, especially as the delta variant spreads across the country,” said Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough in a statement. “Whenever a veteran or VA employee sets foot in a VA facility, they deserve to know that we have done everything in our power to protect them from COVID-19.
“With this mandate, we can once again make — and keep — that fundamental promise.”
Mandatory vaccination for health care workers in Greece
The slow introduction of mandatory vaccinations in the US comes after such measures have been implemented–particularly for health care workers– in other parts of the world, including Greece.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis stated that all those who work in eldercare facilities and homes for those with disabilities and special needs will now be required to receive the coronavirus vaccine in order to protect those in their care by mid-August.
All healthcare workers, including doctors and nurses, who work in public and private hospitals and health clinics will also be required to get their shot by the first of September.
Since the country reopened earlier this summer, enclosed spaces, such as movie theaters and indoor sections of bars and restaurants, have remained closed.
The Prime Minister announced on Monday that those establishments will, however, reopen at the end of the week — but only for those who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19.