US to lift most federal COVID-19 vaccine mandates next week
May 2, 2023 -WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration will end most of the last remaining federal COVID-19 vaccine requirements next week when the national public health emergency for the coronavirus ends, the White House said Monday.
Vaccine requirements for federal workers and federal contractors, as well as foreign air travelers to the U.S., will end May 11. The government is also beginning the process of lifting shot requirements for Head Start educators, healthcare workers, and noncitizens at U.S. land borders.
The requirements are among the last vestiges of some of the more coercive measures taken by the federal government to promote vaccination as the deadly virus raged, and their end marks the latest display of how President Joe Biden’s administration is moving to treat COVID-19 as a routine, endemic illness.
“While I believe that these vaccine mandates had a tremendous beneficial impact, we are now at a point where we think that it makes a lot of sense to pull these requirements down,” White House COVID-19 coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha told The Associated Press on Monday.
Deeply polarizing at the time and the subject of numerous legal challenges — many of which were successful — the vaccination requirements were imposed by Biden in successive waves in late 2022 as the nation’s vaccination rate plateaued even amid the emergence of new, more transmissible variants of COVID-19.