Reprinted with permission from DailyKosPresident Joe Biden on Thursday pressed companies to put COVID-19 vaccination mandates into place while the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) completes a new rule requiring companies with more than 100 employees to mandate vaccination or routine testing.
Speaking at a construction site run by a company that has started requiring vaccination or testing for its own workers, Biden highlighted the success of such mandates, noting that this "wasn't my first instinct," but "[t]hese requirements are already proving that they work."
"Starting in July, when I announced the first vaccination requirement for the federal government, about 95 million eligible Americans were unvaccinated," Biden said. "This was mentioned a little bit earlier. Today, we've reduced that number to 67 [million] eligible Americans who aren't vaccinated."
Biden spoke in the Chicago-area headquarters of United Airlines, a vaccine requirement success story with nearly 99 percent of workers who didn't file for exemptions getting vaccinated. He also pointed to the successes of some health care systems and colleges and universities in getting staff and students vaccinated. "Rush University Medical Center, here in Chicago, has gone from 72 percent to more than 95 percent of its employees fully vaccinated under its requirements."
"Even—this I always get a kick out of—Fox News," Biden said, to laughter and applause. "Fox News requires vaccinations for all employees. Give me a break. Fox News."
In the six weeks since the Defense Department announced a requirement for active-duty forces, vaccination rates in that group have gone from 76 percent to 97 percent. And Biden is talking to the leaders of major companies, with many announcing vaccine mandates.
The same day, the White House released a report on vaccine mandates thus far. Findings show that "organizations with vaccination requirements have seen their vaccination rates increase by more than 20 percentage points and have routinely seen their share of fully vaccinated workers rise above 90 percent," as compared with the 63 percent vaccination rate among the general working-age public. Requirements are already widespread, "in place at 25 percent of businesses, 40 percent of hospitals, and colleges and universities serving 37 percent of all graduate and undergraduate students," but are poised to become much more so when OSHA finalizes its rule for employers with more than 100 workers.
And, as Friday's disappointing jobs report reminds us, COVID-19 continues to stifle the economy, even while vaccination provides a way forward. "During the recent spread of the delta variant, cases, hospitalizations, and deaths were roughly two-and-a-half times higher in states with low vaccination rates compared to high-vaccination states," the White House report says. "Small business employee hours grew faster and stayed higher during the rise of the delta variant in the states that have higher working-age vaccination rates, versus states with lower vaccination rates."
Polls have repeatedly shown that a majority of people support vaccination mandates. A new survey even indicates majority support for a vaccination mandate on school kids aged 12 to 17.
They have public support.
More companies, school districts, and other organizations should put them into place right now.
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