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US: White House wants millions of government contractors vaccinated by Dec. 8

By David Shepardson

THE White House said on Friday that millions of federal contractors must be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Dec. 8 and that the administration will add clauses to future government contracts mandating inoculations.

President Joe Biden signed an executive order on Sept. 9 requiring federal contractors to mandate vaccinations, but many U.S. companies with federal contracts have awaited formal guidance from the White House before moving forward.

U.S. airlines were among the industries awaiting confirmation, as they sometimes hold contracts to sell tickets to government employees.

Jason Miller, deputy White House Office of Management and Budget director, said Friday in a blog post the “guidance issued today advances one of the main goals of this science-based plan: getting more people vaccinated.”

Miller said the vaccination policy for contractors “will decrease worker absence, reduce labor costs, and improve the efficiency of contractors and subcontractors performing work for the Federal Government.”

An administration official said Friday it was interpreting the vaccination requirements for contractors “broadly,” saying they extend beyond government contractors who work in federal buildings.

The new guidance says that contractor employees covered by the rules “must be fully vaccinated no later than December 8” and adds that after that date, employees must be vaccinated by the first day of performance on a new or extended contract.

It adds that contractor employees “working on a covered contract from their residence also must comply with the vaccination requirement.”

A federal official told Reuters that procurement contracts with the government in general are covered, especially for service contracts. The requirements are also expected to apply to government contracts for manufacturing specific products for the government, like defense contracts, rather than off-the-shelf products, the official said.

The government said all covered contractors must be vaccinated “except in limited circumstances where an employee is legally entitled to an accommodation.”

Earlier this month, the White House said most federal employees must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 no later than Nov. 22.

Last week major defense contractor Raytheon Technologies Corp (RTX.N), the maker of Tomahawk missiles, mandated its 125,000 U.S. employees get vaccinated.

The Labor Department separately plans to issue an emergency temporary standard requiring employers with more than 100 workers to have them inoculated or tested weekly – a policy expected to cover more than 80 million workers. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said last week that rule would be released in October.

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