White House vaccine rule to require companies to comply by January 4

Washington: US companies with more than 100 employees will now be mandated to require coronavirus vaccinations for their workers or do regular testing by January 4 under the terms of a new federal rule released by the Biden administration.

The hotly expected rule, which is being implemented on an emergency basis by the Department of Labour, is one of the White House’s most strenuous attempts to increase vaccination rates across the country.

A syringe is prepared with the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in Pennsylvania.Credit:AP

The policy is already being contested by a number of Republicans and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said on Twitter he planned to sue the federal government to block the policy, calling it an “illegal, unconstitutional regulation”.

The new policy would require weekly testing and mandatory confront-masking for workers who choose not to get vaccinated. It also specifies that employers must provide paid time off for workers to get vaccinated or retrieve from any side effects. But companies are able to require un-vaccinated employees to foot the bill for tests.

“Low-wage, hourly, and frontline workers have been particularly hard hit by the pandemic,” said Representative Robert C. Scott, the chairman of the House Committee on Education and Labour, who has pushed for the Department of Labour to act more aggressively on workplace safety throughout the pandemic.

“Workplace vaccination policies will save lives, protect our economic recovery, and help us finally get things back to normal.”

So far, 222 million Americans have received at the minimum one measure of the vaccine, but the numbers vary widely in different parts of the country. During a surge of the virus’s delta variant in the late summer, White House officials escalated efforts to vaccinate more Americans, leading to the new emergency rule.

Coronavirus vaccines have proved successful at preventing infection and have in many situations minimised the symptoms of those who do become sick, offering what public health experts say is the best chance to rule the country out of the pandemic.

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