Where federal vaccination mandates stand: 11 things to know

Federal COVID-19 vaccination requirements for healthcare workers and employees in other areas continue to face legal challenges and pending court rulings, adding a layer of complexity around the rules.

Eleven things to know about where things stand:

Requirements for healthcare workers

1. The CMS vaccination mandate for eligible staff at healthcare facilities participating in Medicare and Medicaid programs is expected to cover more than 17 million workers. It requires facilities to establish a policy ensuring workers are fully vaccinated by Jan. 4, with exemptions allowed based on religious beliefs or recognized medical conditions. 

2. President Joe Biden's administration is asking the Supreme Court to stop lower court decisions in Louisiana and Missouri that are blocking the CMS rule in about half the country.

3. The nation's highest court has called for additional briefing by Dec. 30, indicating a ruling could come early in 2022, The Washington Post reported.

4. Meanwhile, in Texas, Attorney General Ken Paxton announced Dec. 16 that the state secured a preliminary injunction against the federal mandate for healthcare workers. The injunction applies only to Texas, which is not one of the states included in the lower court decisions.

Requirements for businesses

5. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration's vaccinate-or-test mandate is expected to cover more than 80 million workers in private sector businesses with 100 or more employees.

6. On Dec. 17, a three-judge panel of the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati reinstated the mandate after challenges to the rule were consolidated at that court on Nov. 16. The decision overturned a November decision by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans to temporarily block the federal government from moving forward with the rule.

7. After the 6th Circuit reinstated the mandate, OSHA said on its website that it will not issue citations for noncompliance with any requirements of the rule before Jan. 10 and will not issue citations for noncompliance with the rule's testing requirements prior to Feb. 9, "so long as an employer is exercising reasonable, good faith efforts to come into compliance with the standard. OSHA will work closely with the regulated community to provide compliance assistance."

8. More than half the states and coalitions of business and religious groups are asking the Supreme Court to block the OSHA requirements, according to The Washington Post.

Requirements for federal contractors  

9. The Biden administration's mandate for federal contractors requires employees of contractors performing work on certain contracts to be fully vaccinated, allowing limited exemptions. 

10. U.S. District Court Judge R. Stan Baker, in Augusta, Ga., issued a nationwide preliminary injunction Dec. 7 against the mandate.

11. In addition to the nationwide injunction, the Missouri Attorney General's Office announced Dec. 20 that the office received a preliminary injunction against the mandate, which halts enforcement of the mandate in Missouri and nine other states that collectively filed a lawsuit.

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