Biden issues vaccine mandate that impacts Arizona employers, health workers
President Joe Biden announced Thursday that all employers with more than 100 workers must require coronavirus vaccinations or test employees weekly. Gov. Doug Ducey immediately promised that Arizona will “push back” on Biden’s vaccine mandate, which also includes federal workers and health care staff.
“COVID-19 is a contagious disease, it is still with us and it will be for the foreseeable future,” Ducey said. “President Biden’s solution is hammering down on private businesses and individual freedoms in an unprecedented and dangerous way. Today marks another egregious big government overreach robbing Arizonans and all Americans of their fundamental rights to make their own decisions about their health and the health of their children. The COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective tools to prevent the disease, but getting the vaccine is and should be a choice.”
READ MORE: Delta variant continues to strain Arizona hospitals with unvaccinated patients
Summary of Biden’s vaccine mandate:
• All federal workers and contractors must get vaccinated, with few exceptions.
• Employers with 100 or more workers must require them to be vaccinated or tested weekly. Employers must provide paid time off for vaccination.
• Health care workers in hospitals, clinics and other facilities that accept Medicare and Medicaid payments must get vaccinated.
• Employees of Head Start early childhood education and other federal education programs must get vaccinated.
Arizona health officials expressed hope in August that the Food and Drug Administration’s full approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine would boost vaccinations in Arizona, which stands at 56.5% and lags well behind the national average.
Even though more than 326 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been given in the U.S. – with 7.4 million of those in Arizona – they had been delivered under an emergency use authorization from the FDA, a less-rigorous standard than full approval. One study this spring found that as many as one-third of those not vaccinated would be more likely to get a shot once full FDA approval was granted.
But that didn’t happen, so Biden’s expansive vaccine mandate states that all employers with more than 100 workers require them to be vaccinated or test for the virus weekly, affecting as many as 80 million Americans. And the roughly 17 million workers at health facilities that receive federal Medicare or Medicaid also will have to be fully vaccinated.
Officials at Valleywise Health, Maricopa County’s health care system, said nearly all their COVID-19 patients are unvaccinated, and an ASU expert expressed fears that a deadlier variant is yet to come.
At Valleywise Health, the number of unvaccinated COVID-19 patients has jumped to nearly 97%, said Dr. Michael White, the chief clinical officer. Two weeks ago, that rate was 93%, according to AZ Family.
Biden will have OSHA make a rule requiring employees of companies to be tested. Companies will have to pay for the testing, but they can pass the cost on to employees.
According to Forbes, Businesses that refuse to comply with the mandate will open themselves up to hefty fines up to nearly $14,000 per violation.