Federal employees at the U.S. Agency for International Development were the most proactive of any large agency in complying with President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate, according to numbers released Nov. 24 by the Office of Management and Budget.
A total of 97.8% of the agency’s more than 4,000-person workforce received at least one vaccine dose by Nov. 23, meaning that only around 90 employees were unvaccinated. Compliance through either vaccination or the filing of an exception was at 99.1%, leaving only about 35 USAID employees noncompliant.
Vaccination rates were the lowest at the Social Security Administration, with 87.7% of employees receiving a vaccine dose and 95% of the agency compliant overall.
The Department of Transportation had the highest compliance rate at 99.6%.
No major agency fell below 95% compliance, showing that the vast majority of federal employees will continue to work uninterrupted.
“The federal COVID-19 vaccination data released by OMB today prove that federal vaccine requirements work. Tens of thousands of HHS employees followed the science, which means they are safer today and so are their families, workplaces, and communities,” Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement on his agency’s numbers, which revealed the second-most vaccinated workforce among Cabinet-level agencies.
“As we celebrate Thanksgiving tomorrow, we have many things to be thankful for — a safer federal workforce is one of them,” he added.
Though high across the board, agency compliance rates do not entirely assuage fears that employees who refuse to get vaccinated or do not qualify for an exemption could leave government and disrupt critical operations.
Two agencies central to national security — the Defense Department and the Department of Homeland Security — reported noncompliance percentages at around 3% and 4% respectively, which translate into thousands of employees, considering these agencies have such large workforces.
But employee departures and firings aren’t immediately in the works, as agencies have been instructed to place noncompliant employees in counseling programs before pursuing more stringent responses.
“This chart provides a snapshot in time. In the days and weeks ahead, employees will continue to provide vaccination information and documentation, as well as request exceptions, and agencies will continue to process and review that information and documentation, and those requests,” according to an OMB blog outlining the data.
“At any point, if an employee gets their first shot or submits an exception request, agencies will pause further enforcement to give the employee a reasonable amount of time to become fully vaccinated or to process the exception request. This next stage of the process will not result in disruptions to government services and operations and will result in more employees becoming vaccinated.”
Jessie Bur covered the federal workforce and the changes most likely to impact government employees for Federal Times.