Federal agencies lagging as vaccine deadline nears

Coronavirus Vaccine

(NewsNation Now) — The push for federal workers and military members to get vaccinated continues as numbers lag and the deadline fast approaches.

Four million federal workers must be vaccinated by Monday, Nov. 22, per the president’s order. The deadline comes as 80% of the country is vaccinated with at least one shot.

If employees don’t comply with the mandate, they could be fired or placed on unpaid leave. About 20% of U.S. Border Patrol agents are unvaccinated, according to The Washington Post. The same goes for 20% of prison workers. The Transportation Security Administration reported to CNN that 40% of airport screeners aren’t inoculated.

“I cannot imagine being an employee who’s already dealing with the pandemic and having to navigate a personal choice that could implicate their livelihood and the livelihood of their families,” said Sheria Smith, President of the American Federation of Government Employees Local 252.

Smith is helping a couple hundred of the 2,400 Department of Education employees she represents navigate religious and medical exemptions, as they fear suspension and firing.

Members of the Navy SEALs are also pushing back against the mandate.

Keisha Russell, associate counsel with First Liberty Institute, represents 35 Navy SEAL members seeking religious exemptions from the Department of Defense. So far, no exemptions have been granted.

Several of the groups representing federal workers have asked for an extension to the vaccine mandate, aiming to push the deadline beyond the holidays.

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