White House Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on Friday said that it’s “misinformation” to use the term “vaccine mandate” to describe a requirement that most private-sector workers get vaccinated, submit to regular testing or lose their jobs.
She referred to it instead as a “vaccination requirement.”
The policy, set to take effect Jan. 4, compels workplaces with 100 or more staff to impose a COVID-19 vaccine mandate or a policy that allows unvaccinated staff to keep their jobs if they submit to weekly testing and wear masks at work.
But 26 Republican-led states are suing to halt the mandate, which is estimated to cover about 84 million of the 161 million people who are in the US labor force.
“As for the legal side of this, let me be crystal clear to avoid what appears to be possible misinformation or disinformation around the emergency temporary standard being a ‘vaccine mandate.’ That would be on its face incorrect,” Jean-Pierre said at the daily White House press briefing.
“As has been explicit for months, it is a standard for safe workplaces to either comply with weekly testing or to be vaccinated. And second, as outlined the Department of Labor has a responsibility to keep workers safe and the legal authority to do so.”
The private-sector mandate is scheduled to take effect the same day as two other Biden vaccine mandates impacting federal contractors and about 17 million health care workers, with certain medical and religious exemptions.
There’s a Dec. 8 compliance deadline for people employed directly by the federal government.
At the Friday briefing, Jean-Pierre also was asked about Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers admitting he was unvaccinated and dissing the “woke” advocates for vaccination, but she said that “no” the White House wasn’t worried about its vaccine messaging.
“If you look at the vaccination requirement, it would cover 100 million American workers. That’s how we’re going to get to the other side of this,” she said.
Later in the briefing, Jean-Pierre said that “herd immunity” was no longer a near-term Biden administration goal. US health officials initially believed that perhaps 70 percent of people being vaccinated would end the pandemic, but the more contagious Delta variant of COVID-19 upended what had seemed an achievable goal.
According to CDC data, 80.4 percent of US adults have had at least one COVID-19 vaccine shot — as have 78.5 percent of people older than 12 and 67.1 percent of the total US population.
Asked about the current estimate for the percentage of Americans who must be vaccinated, Jean-Pierre said it was “not our focus.”
“I understand your question and I get it. I get wanting to get a sense of the herd immunity. But that is not our focus right now. Our focus is to make sure that we do everything we can to get people vaccinated,” Jean-Pierre said.
“Now we have 5-11 — young kids from 5-11 — who can now get vaccinated, which is incredibly important… Having these vaccine requirements, that’s very important. I just mentioned, 100 million workers… that’s what that requirement is going to touch, 100 million workers.”