President Biden first signaled his intent to require many American workers to obtain full vaccination against COVID-19 in September.
Now, a significant number of employers must ensure their workers are either vaccinated or tested weekly for COVID-19 by January 4 as the rules become official. The requirements will apply to employers with at least 100 employees, translating to approximately 84 million workers.
At present, roughly two-thirds of Americans have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and just over 58% of the U.S. public is fully vaccinated, according to CDC. In addition, about one in ten people have received a booster dose.
Several other countries have substantially higher vaccination rates, including the United Arab Emirates, Portugal, Spain, Israel, Singapore, Japan and Canada.
The federal requirements also enable workers to receive paid time off to obtain vaccine doses and sick time to deal with side effects.
Employees opting to remain unvaccinated must wear masks at work.
The rules don’t apply to employees who work from home or those who work outdoors.
Organizations ignoring the rules face penalties of approximately $13,600 per violation.
Requirements are stricter for healthcare workers who cannot receive a weekly COVID-19 test in lieu of vaccination. The rules apply to all healthcare workers whose facilities receive Medicare or Medicaid funding.
The rules for federal workers and contractors also lack a testing option.
A number of Republicans have criticized the vaccine mandates and vowed to fight them.
Kansas Governor Laura Kelly, a Democrat, also has expressed skepticism of the rules. “It is too late to impose a federal standard now that we have already developed systems and strategies that are tailored for our specific needs,” Kelly said.