A Covid-19 vaccine mandate that will apply to about 115,000 workers in the U.S. Veterans Administration will go into effect in eight weeks.
Denis McDonough, the secretary of Veterans Affairs, said all Title 38 VA health care personnel — including physicians, dentists, podiatrists, optometrists, registered nurses, physician assistants, expanded-function dental auxiliaries and chiropractors — who work in Veterans Health Administration facilities, visit VHA facilities or provide direct care to those VA serves must have a completed vaccination.
Alaska has about 650 VA workers, although not all of them are part of the mandate.
“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. “Whenever a Veteran or 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. With this mandate, we can once again make — and keep — that fundamental promise.”
In recent weeks, the VA has lost four employees to Covid-19, the VA reported. All were unvaccinated. At least three of those employees died due to the Delta variant. There has also been an outbreak among unvaccinated employees and trainees at a VA Law Enforcement Training Center, the third such outbreak during the pandemic.
Beginning Wednesday, those VA health care workers will have eight weeks to get fully vaccinated or face penalties including possible removal, he said.
The Veterans Administration has about 8,600 job openings around the country, even without the vaccine mandate, which may open up other jobs in a worker-controlled job market.