Executive Order Requires Federal Employees to be Fully Vaccinated Against COVID-19

September 14, 2021

On Wednesday, September 9th, President Biden Signed into law an Executive Order (EO) requiring vaccination for federal employees against the COVID-19 disease. All federal workers must be fully vaccinated by November 22, 2021.

The intended goals of the EO are to increase the overall number of people in the U.S. who are vaccinated, decrease the number of deaths and hospitalizations due to COVID-19, and to keep schools and the economy open.

In addition to being fully vaccinated by November 22nd, all federal employees must show proof of vaccination with an official vaccine card. NFFE is continuing to monitor the proposed implementation of the EO, but there will be exemptions for specific medical or religious reasons, subject to the Reasonable Accommodations process at each agency. However, these are the only exceptions – employees will not have the option to be regularly tested in lieu of vaccination.

NFFE understands and respects the differing perspectives of its individual members on matters regarding vaccines, mask mandates, and social distancing. We have considered the likelihood of success on a legal challenge to the mandates contained within the EO. More than 100 years of legal precedent exists confirming the authority of employer-required mandates and vaccines, and the courts at all levels have consistently rejected challenges to this type of mandate. Therefore, NFFE has determined it will not legally challenge the Executive Order requiring federal employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

NFFE believes no employee should be fired in connection with this mandate. NFFE is in discussions with the Administration regarding progressive discipline for employees who remain unvaccinated. NFFE also remains concerned that any disciplinary actions taken by agencies are defined in advance and are administrated consistently and fairly. As those discussions continue, NFFE encourages everyone who is able to get the vaccination. The CDC has found that unvaccinated individuals are 11 times more likely to die of COVID-19.

Please see the related NFFE Guidance on Executive Order Requiring COVID-19 Vaccination and OPM Guidance.