About 3,000 of the Department of Veterans Affairs' 380,000 staff have didn't report their vaccine standing, because the VA requires, and face disciplinary motion, which may embrace being fired.
To date, nevertheless, nobody has confronted termination, VA Secretary Denis McDonough stated this week.
Roughly 90% of the VA's workforce has complied with the division's vaccine mandate, which set an Oct. 8 deadline for well being care employees and people who work together with veterans. The deadline was Nov. 22 for all different staff.
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Of the remaining 10%, almost all have utilized for a medical waiver or non secular exemption. But roughly 3,000 staff, or lower than 1% of the workforce, haven't complied with a requirement to report their vaccination standing.
McDonough stated the division's precedence is to get its staff immunized, not expedite their elimination from employment.
"No one has yet been fired. ... We are exercising [our] authority principally at the moment along the counseling and education [efforts]," he stated. "The defenses vaccination gives, even against omicron with its multiple variations, underscores the importance of ensuring [compliance]."
McDonough didn't say what number of medical and spiritual exemptions have been authorized, however the VA has taken an method that accepts a doctor's opinion on medical choices and isn't difficult most requests for non secular exemptions.
However, waiver requests for some staff, together with those that work with veterans in nursing properties, intensive care items, spinal wire damage facilities and most cancers items, shall be scrutinized, he added.
In these locations, "we can't have high concentrations of religious exceptions. We retain the right to challenge those. Exactly how we do that, we're working through," McDonough stated.
This week, greater than 13,000 VA staff had been out of labor over COVID-19, both having it themselves or isolating due to being uncovered. Since the beginning of the pandemic in February 2020, 243 VA staff have died.
Coronavirus circumstances amongst VA sufferers and employees are at all-time highs, with greater than 63,000 lively circumstances this week, as the results of the extra contagious omicron variant. More than 18,640 VA sufferers have died of COVID-19, together with 7,126 in VA hospitals.
With the rise in circumstances nationwide, the VA has opened up some amenities to non-VA sufferers with COVID-19. It presently has 130 beds obtainable in 10 states, McDonough stated.
The pandemic, which originated in late 2019, has killed almost 5.6 million individuals worldwide, together with 860,564 within the United States, in keeping with Johns Hopkins University.
-- Patricia Kime could be reached at Patricia.Kime@Military.com. Follow her on Twitter @patriciakime.
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