United States

U.S. sets COVID vaccine deadline for big companies

Published : November 05, 2021 16:30 IST

The U.S. has struggled to boost its vaccination rates in recent months. Photo: Luiz Rampelotto/EuropaNewswire/picture alliance

Tens of millions of working Americans will need to be vaccinated or tested weekly for COVID-19 by early January.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) implemented a new rule on November 4 which requires tens of millions of Americans working at medium or large companies to be either vaccinated or tested weekly for COVID-19 by January 4.

What do we know about the policy?

The rule applies to staff at companies with more than 100 employees. The mandate will also target health care workers and those employed at federal contractors. The mandate is expected to affect around 84 million workers across the country. Another 17 million workers who are employed at nursing homes and hospitals receiving federal funds will also be affected. It's unclear how OSHA will enforce the mandate. Companies could be hit with a nearly $14,000 (€12,105) fine per violation.

The new rules were first announced by U.S. President Joe Biden in September. The Biden administration is hoping to boost vaccination rates after the delta variant of the coronavirus surged across the United States this summer. "The bottom line is vaccination requirements work," a senior administration official told the AFP news agency. The official said the rules will "lead to millions of Americans getting vaccinated, protecting workers, saving lives, strengthening our economy and helping to accelerate our path out of the pandemic."

Mandate faces staunch Republican opposition

But the mandate could face backlash from conservative Republicans. A group of Republicans in the Senate, led by Mike Braun of Indiana, is attempting to overturn the rule. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a Republican and ally of former President Donald Trump, is also suing the Biden administration over rules requiring employees of federal contractors to be vaccinated.

The U.S. is expected to ramp up its vaccine rollout in the coming months after the CDC health agency endorsed coronavirus vaccines for children from ages 5 to 11. The Biden administration has also touted booster shots for adults in recent months to curb infections.

wd/nm (AP, AFP)