Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has said that there will be no national vaccine mandate. She added that she “understands pushback” against the possibility.
Walensky clarified her position after she initially told Fox News told Special Report anchor Bret Baier that she and Democratic President Joe Biden were “looking into” the possibility of establishing a mandate.
“Are you for mandating a vaccine on a federal level?” Baier asked during his Friday interview with Walensky on the show Special Report.
“That’s something that I think the administration is looking into,” she replied. “Overall, I think in general, I am all for more vaccination. But, I have nothing further to say on that except that we are looking into those policies.”
Later, via Twitter, Walensky wrote, “There will be no nationwide mandate. I was referring to mandates by private institutions and portions of the federal government. There will be no federal mandate.”
Baier mentioned that some people oppose mandatory vaccines. Their religious or personal beliefs dictate that they should have full control of their bodies, he said. Walensky replied, “I completely understand the pushback.”
She mentioned that some healthcare providers have resisted their employers’ requirements to get the vaccine.
“I understand both perspectives,” she said. She said some people’s reluctance against vaccination is rooted in worry about side effects or a lack of understanding about immunity’s benefits.
Walensky also noted that many schools and other institutions already require vaccination against other diseases, like polio and pertussis.
In the past, President Joe Biden and his chief medical adviser, Dr. Anthony Fauci, have both said that the U.S. won’t make COVID-19 vaccines mandatory. The military, however, is expected to implement mandatory vaccinations in the near future.
In early June, a Navy official said sailors should expect mandatory vaccination soon. In July, the Army announced that it would require all soldiers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as September. The exact date for mandatory vaccinations will depend on when the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) fully licenses the available vaccines.
As of July 28, the vaccines available in the U.S. all have an “emergency use authorization.” To get full FDA approval, the government agency requires six months of safety data from users, Dr. Thomas Russo, chief of infectious diseases at the University at Buffalo, told WKBW.
Outside of the military, if a person claims a medical, religious or philosophical exemption from the vaccine, employers can “exclude” such people from the workplace, according to December 2020 guidelines issued by the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC says unvaccinated people may pose “a direct threat” to the health of others.
However, the EEOC’s guidelines also state, “This does not mean the employer may automatically terminate the worker. Employers will need to determine if any other rights apply under the [equal employment opportunity] laws or other federal, state and local authorities.”
Employers and states are within their legal rights to require students and healthcare workers as well as patients and residents of care facilities to get vaccinated, according to the CDC.