President Joseph R. Biden Jr. has issued an executive order to revoke the COVID-19 vaccination requirements for federal employees. The decision comes as the United States enters a new phase in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic and begins the process of ending emergency declarations related to the virus.

In 2021, President Biden had issued Executive Order 14043 and Executive Order 14042, which mandated COVID-19 vaccination for federal employees and ensured adequate safety protocols for federal contractors, respectively. These orders were implemented at a time when the highly contagious Delta variant was predominant, leading to a rapid increase in cases and hospitalizations. The vaccination requirements were deemed necessary to protect the health and safety of critical workforces and enhance the efficiency of government services.

Since then, the Biden administration has made significant progress in implementing vaccination programs, with over 270 million Americans receiving at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. The country has also witnessed a decline in COVID-19 deaths by 93 percent and new hospitalizations by 86 percent since September 2021.

With the improved state of the pandemic and the availability of guidance from public health experts on mitigation measures, President Biden, in consultation with these experts, has determined that a government-wide vaccination requirement for federal employees and federally specified safety protocols for contractors are no longer necessary. While vaccination remains an important tool in protecting individuals from serious illness, the government can now move beyond these requirements.

The executive order revokes Executive Order 14042 and Executive Order 14043, rendering them null and void. Any agency policies adopted to implement these orders will no longer be enforceable and must be rescinded in accordance with applicable law.

The order will come into effect at 12:01 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time on May 12, 2023.

It is important to note that this order does not affect the authority of executive departments or agencies or the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget. The implementation of the order will be in accordance with applicable laws and subject to the availability of appropriations.

President Biden’s executive order does not create any new rights or benefits enforceable by individuals but signifies a transition to a new phase in the country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This development marks a significant step forward as the United States adapts to the changing landscape of the pandemic and aims to strike a balance between public health measures and the functioning of the federal workforce.

Source: White house briefing-room

By Joshi

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