WASHINGTON — The Department of Veterans Affairs announced on Monday that its staff will be required to be vaccinated against Covid-19, becoming the first federal agency to issue such a requirement.
The news comes as the Biden administration has been under increased pressure to mandate vaccinations amid the number of cases rising in recent weeks.
“The VA will require all docs working in facilities be vaccinated,” President Joe Biden said on Monday.
The department released a statement, confirming the report. The statement said the order is recommended for Veterans Affairs health care personnel who work in Veterans Health Administration facilities, or provide direct care to those VA services.
“We’re mandating vaccines for Title 38 employees because it’s the best way to keep Veterans safe, especially as the Delta variant spreads across the country,” Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough said 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.”
The department said a minimum of four employees have died from Covid and there have been three Covid outbreaks at Veterans Affairs facilities, mostly among those who are not vaccinated.
Public health experts say businesses and government agencies are expected to require vaccinations for their employees and customers.
Several non-government institutions such as colleges and universities have required certain immunizations.
The suggestions of Covid vaccination mandates has been met with resistance from conservative lawmakers and several other activists.
It is unclear how much say the Biden administration could have as far as requiring vaccinations apart from mandating federal employees.