The Biden administration is not planning on imposing a vaccine mandate and will not track who has or hasn’t had the shots, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said during a Friday briefing.
However businesses and institutions like colleges and universities can, Psaki added.
‘Private sector companies may decide that they want to have requirements. That’s up to them. we have no plans to change our approach from the federal government,’ she said.
Rising vaccination rates are allowing the U.S. to look increasingly normal, especially after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Thursday that fully vaccinated Americans can safely stop wearing masks in most situations.
Nearly half of Americans (46.8 percent) have had at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, and more than 36 percent have been fully vaccinated.
But nearly 20 percent of Americans are vaccine hesitant – with the highest rates among Republicans – and notions if mandates for vaccination or masks have become politically divisive in the U.S.
So far, liberal states including New York are using vaccine passports at some events, while conservative states like Texas and Florida have banned companies for asking their employees for proof of vaccination.
While public health officials are desperately trying to convince Americans to get vaccinated, they worry that mandates would backfire and only make more people hesitant to get the shots.
‘Private sector companies may decide that they want to have requirements. That’s up to them. we have no plans to change our approach from the federal government,’ White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said on Friday
President Biden has never supported a federal vaccine mandate, a position first articulated by Psaki in April. The president also never suggested a federal mask mandate, although he did institute one for federal property upon inauguration.
Mandating vaccines would be unprecedented.
In the U.S. most public schools do require proof of vaccination, and several are recommended for children, starting at birth, by the CDC.
However, it’s up to states whether schools require shots or not, and the federal government does not legally require any health interventions, nor proof of them.
Back in April, Psaki said: ‘The government is not now nor will we be supporting a system that requires Americans to carry a credential.’
She acknowledged that private companies and non-profits likely would consider asking their employees to show proof of vaccination, as is their right, but requiring Americans to get the shots was not on the table for the federal government.
‘Our interest is very simple from the federal government, which is Americans’ privacy and rights should be protected so these systems are not used against people unfairly,’ Psaki said.
Republican governors have been especially adamant that requiring vaccination would be an overstep, and requiring proof of vaccination would be an invasion of privacy.
Several have gone so far as to ban vaccine passports or similar credentials.
Arizona, Alabama, Montana, Minnesota, South Carolina, Texas, Utah and Florida have all passed laws prohibiting businesses from requiring proof of vaccination.
In Democrat-led Hawaii and New York, legislation to allow or encourage the use of vaccine passports is under consideration – but there don’t appear to be plans to mandate them outright.
Health officials have by and large warned against vaccine mandates.
Last month, Dr Anthony Fauci told Politico said it wouldn’t happen.
‘I doubt that the federal government will be the main mover of a vaccine passport concept,’ he said.
‘They may be involved in making sure things are done fairly and equitably, but I doubt if the federal government is going to be the leading element of that.
He, too, said that it might be different for businesses.
‘I’m not saying that they should or that they would, but I’m saying you could foresee how an independent entity might say, ‘well, we can’t be dealing with you unless we know you’re vaccinated,’ but it’s not going to be mandated from the federal government.’
Schools could require proof of vaccinations, as they do for vaccines against diseases like measles, polio and tetanus, but it’s unlikely, at least for the next several months.
Dr Anthony Fauci said on CBS This Morning on Thursday (pictured) that he is not sure if US schools should require children to get the COVID-19 vaccine before they return for in-person learning. He has warned that vaccine mandates could backfire and make Americans more reluctant to get the shots
Dr Fauci said he ‘wasn’t so sure’ schools would mandate the COVID-19 vaccine.
‘Whenever you’re talking about requiring something, that’s always a charged issue,’ Dr Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), during an appearance on CBS This Morning.
‘I’m not so sure we should be requiring children at all; we should be encouraging them. But you got to be careful when you make a requirement of something, that usually gets you into a lot of pushback, understandable pushback.’
The FDA and CDC have only just signed off on vaccinating kids as young as 12 with Pfizer’s COVID-19 shot, and parents are split about 50/50 over whether or not they want their teens and tweens to get inoculated.
Pfizer’s shot is only authorized for emergency use. It’s highly unlikely that schools would require the vaccine before it has been fully approved by the FDA.