VA mandating COVID-19 vaccines for medical employees

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WILMINGTON, DELAWARE – DECEMBER 11: Former Obama White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough delivers remarks after being introduced as U.S. President-elect Joe Biden’s nominee to head the Department of Veterans Affairs at the Queen Theater on December 11, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware. President-elect Joe Biden is continuing to round out his domestic team with the announcement of his choices for cabinet secretaries of Veterans Affairs and Agriculture, and the heads of his domestic policy council and the U.S. Trade Representative. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS — The Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough announced he will make COVID-19 vaccines mandatory for Title 38 VA health care personnel who work in Veterans Health Administration facilities, visit VHA facilities or provide direct care to those VA serves.

These health care personnel includes physicians, dentists, podiatrists, optometrists, registered nurses, physician assistants, expanded-function dental auxiliaries and chiropractors.

“We’re mandating vaccines for Title 38 employees because it’s the best way to keep Veterans safe, especially as the Delta variant spreads across the country,” McDonough said. “Whenever a Veteran or VA employee sets foot in a VA facility, they deserve to know that we have done everything in our power to protect them from COVID-19. With this mandate, we can once again make — and keep — that fundamental promise.”

The decision of the VA is supported by numerous medical organizations including the American Hospital AssociationAmerica’s Essential Hospitals and a Multisociety group of the leading Infectious Disease Societies. 

In recent weeks, VA has lost four employees to COVID-19 — all of whom were unvaccinated. At least three of those employees died because of the increasingly prevalent Delta variant.

An outbreak among unvaccinated employees and trainees at a VA Law Enforcement Training Center has also occurred recently, the third such outbreak during the pandemic.

All VA employees are eligible to be vaccinated at no personal expense at any of the VA facilities. Employees will also receive four hours of paid administrative leave after demonstrating they have been vaccinated.

Employees will have eight weeks to get vaccinated.

Further information is provided in these FAQs or clinician and Veteran videos.

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