On Monday, the Department of Veterans Affairs declared that COVID-19 vaccinations will now be mandatory for its healthcare workers, making it the first federal government agency to enact such a policy.
Veterans Affairs Secretary Dennis McDonough made the announcement on Monday and has given the agency's healthcare workers eight weeks to comply.
"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 in a statement. "Whenever a veteran or a 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," he continued. "With this mandate, we can once again make—and keep—that fundamental promise."
"In recent weeks," McDonough added, "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."
According to the statement, physicians, dentists, podiatrists, optometrists, registered nurses, physician assistants, expanded-function dental auxiliaries and chiropractors will be included under the mandate's stipulations.