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Covid vaccination requirement to end next week for federal employees and international travelers

The administration had said it would end a public health emergency tied to the pandemic on May 11.
The lead nurse prepares a syringe with a Covid-19 vaccine at the Peoples Congregational United Church of Christ, the site of the Ward 4 DC Covid Center, in Washington, D.C. on March 31, 2023.
A nurse prepares a syringe with a Covid-19 vaccine at the Ward 4 DC Covid Center in Washington, D.C. on March 31.Eric Lee for The Washington Post via Getty Images file

The Biden administration will end Covid vaccination requirements for federal employees and international air travelers on May 11, the White House said Monday.

The requirement will be dropped the same day the administration said it would end the public health emergency tied to the coronavirus pandemic.

“While vaccination remains one of the most important tools in advancing the health and safety of employees and promoting the efficiency of workplaces, we are now in a different phase of our response when these measures are no longer necessary,” the White House said in a statement.

The administration is also ending vaccination requirements it had put in place for international air travelers as part of its effort to curb the spread of new variants of the coronavirus. The new travel rules mean international air travelers who are not U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents will no longer need to be fully vaccinated before they fly to the U.S.

The Department of Homeland Security also announced plans on Monday to no longer require non-U.S. travelers entering the country by land ports of entry and ferry terminals to be fully vaccinated against the virus.

Biden in September 2021 first issued his order requiring that executive branch agency employees get vaccinated, while making exceptions for those with medical and religious reasons to forgo the vaccine.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans in March blocked President Joe Biden’s executive order requiring federal employees to get vaccinated against the coronavirus. The decision reversed an earlier ruling that had upheld the vaccination requirement.

In spite of the ongoing legal battle over the mandate, the White House said Monday that the administration had achieved "98% compliance" among the federal workforce.

The administration is also rolling back other Covid-related requirements.

The Health and Human Services Department will begin ending vaccination requirements for Head Start educators and health care facilities certified by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the White House said.

Since he took office, Biden has come under strong criticism from Republicans over his administration’s Covid response, particularly over vaccination and mask requirements.

Last month, Biden signed into law a Republican-backed resolution terminating the coronavirus national emergency first declared in March 2020 a month earlier than his administration had planned.