(HealthDay News) — The Biden Administration announced on Monday that it will lift most federal COVID-19 vaccine mandates next week, as the pandemic public health emergency ends on May 11.
Foreign travelers to the United States, Head Start educators, health care workers, and noncitizens at the US border will see vaccine mandates lifted. Such mandates have already been lifted for Congress and the federal court system.
“While I believe that these vaccine mandates had a tremendous beneficial impact, we are now at a point where we think that it makes a lot of sense to pull these requirements down,” White House COVID-19 coordinator Ashish Jha, MD, told the Associated Press on Monday.
Mandates will continue for many National Institutes of Health employees, as well as those at the Indian Health Service and Department of Veterans Affairs. Those agencies have their own requirements and will review them, the White House said.
The vaccine mandates divided the country when Biden ordered them to try to prevent new coronavirus cases as highly transmissible variants were spreading. At one point, they covered more than 100 million workers, the AP reported. Some employers, especially medical facilities, may choose to continue their own mandates, Jha noted.
Jha said the goal now is to continue to encourage vaccinations. “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.”