MESSAGE FROM THE SECRETARY
Update Regarding COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate Litigation
Many of you have reached out to ask about last week’s U.S. Court of Appeals opinion ruling, which 1) ruled that the District Court made an error in issuing a preliminary injunction pausing the President’s vaccine requirement for federal employees, and 2) ruled that the District Court was required to dismiss the case. The bottom line is that ruling does not reinstate the President’s vaccine requirement at this time, because there are still procedural steps that need to happen before the injunction can be lifted.
In other words, as of now, nothing has changed. We will continue to implement our vaccine requirement for Veterans Health Administration (VHA) health care personnel, but we will continue to pause on implementing the President’s executive order for other Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) employees.
So, what does this mean for you?
· Non-VHA health care personnel. For VA employees who are not VHA health care personnel, there is still a pause on implementing the vaccine requirement. This means that until further notice, we will not begin processing vaccine exception requests, implementing discipline for noncompliance with the vaccine requirement, and requiring job applicants to be fully vaccinated.
· VHA health care personnel. The injunction does not impact the Department’s authority to require VA health care personnel to be vaccinated. We will continue to enforce this vaccine requirement to ensure the safety of Veterans and our VA colleagues. Requests for exceptions related to a medical condition, religious belief, or pregnancy will continue to be processed in accordance with applicable laws, regulations, and policies.
· Safety protocols. This decision has no impact on safety protocols. VA will continue to follow applicable guidance and policies as updated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Safer Federal Workforce Task Force, and other Federal authorities (e.g., masking, physical distancing, testing, travel and quarantine requirements, etc.).
We will keep you updated on the vaccine requirements and the lifting of the injunction moving forward. Thank you for all you do each and every day for Veterans, their families, caregivers, and survivors.