White House officials reported that roughly 95% of federal workers, who number around 3.5 million people, in the United States have complied with U.S. President Joe Biden's vaccine mandate ahead of its Monday deadline despite widespread opposition from Republicans.
In a statement, the Biden administration said that any federal worker who was in the process of getting inoculated or requesting an exemption was considered as "in compliance" with the mandate. The announcement comes despite the mandate requiring employees to be fully vaccinated by Nov. 22.
Biden's Vaccine Mandates
The official said that more than 90% of federal employees have already received their first coronavirus vaccine shot while the vast majority of the workers are already fully vaccinated. The 95% statistics showed the number of people who have had at least one vaccination dose or have a "pending or approved exception or extension request."
Biden's vaccine mandate gave federal workers a deadline of Nov. 8 to get their first shots in order to get fully vaccinated by the Monday deadline, based on guidance from the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force, Politico reported.
The numbers were announced by White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Jeff Zients during a press briefing. After confirming previous reports of the number of workers vaccinated, he said that the Biden administration has successfully implemented inoculation requirements for the largest workforce in the United States.
On Monday, Zients said that the Biden administration's goal with the implementation of the vaccine mandate was not to punish federal workers. Instead, the Democratic leader only wished to protect workers and their loved ones. The official added that for the small percentage of employees who have not yet received their shots, education and counseling processes were being enforced, CNN reported.
The situation comes as Republican lawmakers continue to protest and oppose Biden's vaccine mandate. Starting Monday, the Kansas legislature is set to meet in special session in its efforts to battle the federal government and its vaccine requirements. However, the final say when it comes to deciding whether or not the mandates are legal will fall onto courts.
This has caused concern among some officials who worry that such bold action could worsen the state's capability of responding to public health crises or put employers in a legal dilemma. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) last week temporarily paused the enforcement of its own temporary emergency standard.
The standard required companies with at least 100 employees to require workers to either get vaccinated against the coronavirus or submit themselves to regular testing by Jan. 4, 2022. With the rule now in legal limbo, Republicans who dominate the legislature in Kansas are unlikely to abandon their plans to allow workers to choose to not get vaccinated in compliance with the mandates.
"We're not going to let the Biden Administration force businesses to play God or doctor and determine whether a religious or medical exemption is valid or not. We're going to trust individual Kansans," said Republican Senate President Ty Masterson in a statement announcing the session, NPR reported.