Surgeon general says US will monitor vaccine exemptions, Fauci predicts more mandates needed — 7 details

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Anthony Fauci, MD, the White House chief medical adviser, and U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, MD, fielded questions from reporters Sept. 12 in the wake of vaccine mandates unveiled in President Joe Biden's strategy to combat the pandemic. 

President Biden's six-pronged plan, among other things, requires all employers with 100 or more employees to ensure their staff are fully vaccinated or undergo weekly COVID-19 testing. President Biden said he is also requiring that federal executive branch workers, as well as employees of contractors that do business with the federal government, be vaccinated, with limited medical and religious exemptions. 

Additionally, CMS will require COVID-19 vaccinations for more than 17 million healthcare workers at Medicare- and Medicaid-participating hospitals and other healthcare settings.

Seven details from federal officials' weekend interviews:

1. On the ABC program "This Week," Dr. Murthy defended the federal mandates and described President Biden's plan, released Sept. 9, as "ambitious" and "thoughtful" amid the delta variant. 

2. Dr. Murthy told ABC "This Week" anchor George Stephanopoulos, "The requirements that he announced are not sweeping requirements for the entire nation. These are focused on areas where the federal government has legal authority to act."

3. In his ABC interview, Dr. Murthy cited Tyson Foods as an example of how vaccine requirements work to boost vaccination rates. He said the company "saw that its vaccination rate went from 45 percent to more than 70 percent in a very short period of time and they're not even at their deadline yet."

4. Dr. Murthy told CNN’s "State of the Union" President Biden's administration will continue to monitor exemptions to ensure they're being used properly. 

He said, "We have experience in dealing with exemptions, but have to be vigilant there and make sure people are using them in the spirit that they’re intended and not, as you know, abusing them or asking for exemptions when they don't apply."

5. Dr. Fauci told CNN's Jen Christensen at a panel organized by NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ Journalists "many, many" more vaccine mandates may be needed to end the COVID-19 pandemic. 

6. Dr. Fauci told Ms. Christensen during the panel, "It's a very difficult period, because the delta variant has been the wild card that has really changed things." NLGJA said the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases suggested a team of, "trusted public messengers who put aside political ideologies and convince people to get vaccinated," along with local and organizationally-based mandates, would get the public health crisis under control faster.

7. Dr. Fauci's interview with Ms. Christensen also addressed Dr. Fauci's experiences during the HIV epidemic. Read more about the interview here and here.

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