As the Delta variant of COVID-19 continues to create new hot spots across the country, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) handed down a mandate to the healthcare workers in its organization. Those on the front line (around 115,000 workers) will have to get vaccinated within the next two months. VA Secretary Denis McDonough told The New York Times that if they didn’t comply, the workers could face penalties, “including possible removal.” The VA is the first federal agency to make vaccinations mandatory.
Employees would have four hours off to get their shots and be eligible for two days’ paid sick leave to take care of themselves if they had any side effects from the vaccination. At the beginning of July, Military.com reported that 70% (nearly 300,000) of VA employees were fully vaccinated.
In a press conference at the end of June, McDonough stated that the VA had offered half-day paid leave to incentivize its workers to get the jab. “My goal has been that by August, we are in a position to make clear that we are providing more care and more benefits than before the pandemic,” he said. “Our ability to do that is enhanced by our ability to get more workers vaccinated.”