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How the Federal Vaccine Mandate May Affect You

September 14, 2021
By Michelle Michelle Perez-Yanez

On September 9, 2021, President Biden issued an executive order that all federal employees and contractors who do business with the federal government must be vaccinated. 

The vaccine mandate comes at the heels of the rise in COVID-19 cases the US has seen in the second half of 2021. President Biden issued this order to increase the number of vaccinated individuals and in return slow the spread of COVID-19. 

Who is Required to Get the Vaccine?

All persons employed by the federal government are required to be vaccinated subject to exemptions for employees with accommodations for disabilities, religious belief, or pregnancy. This includes members of the armed forces. 

I Work for a Government Contractor, Do I Have to be Vaccinated?

Generally, yes. The vaccine mandate applies to any individuals working on or in connection with a Federal Government contract or contract-like instrument in any workplace location in which an individual is working in connection with a contract, as specified by the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force.

What if My Disability Prevents Me From Getting Vaccinated?

If your disability prevents you from getting vaccinated, you may seek an accommodation from your employer. Upon requesting an accommodation, you and your employer are required to engage in the interactive process. There, your employer is obligated to consider different options for you to be able to continue working. However, only accommodations that do not cause an undue hardship to the employer will be considered. Employers are not required to provide accommodations that cause a significant difficulty or expense to the employer.  


What if My Religion Prevents Me From Getting Vaccinated? 

Your employer must provide a reasonable accommodation unless it poses an undue hardship on the entity. Employers are to consider the same factors in providing a religious accommodation as they do for employees with disabilities.

Further, employers are required to assume your request for religious accommodation is based on a sincerely held belief. However, if your employer is aware of facts that provide an objective basis for questioning either the religious nature or the sincerity of a particular belief, practice or observance, your employer is justified in requesting additional supporting information.  

What if My Pregnancy Prevents Me From Getting Vaccinated? 

Employees who are not vaccinated due to pregnancy are entitled to the same accommodations as those with disabilities and religious accommodations for the duration of their pregnancy.