Fedweek

Showing symptoms of Covid-19 is not a valid reason for an agency to request documentation verifying vaccine status.

Federal employees who attest that they are fully vaccinated generally will not be required to present proof—such as a card from the vaccine provider—but they may be required to do so under some circumstances, according to the latest guidance from the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force.

“Agencies should not request documentation to verify an employee’s vaccination status. If the agency receives a good faith allegation that strongly suggests that an employee made a false statement on the Certification of Vaccination form, the agency may request documentation as part of its investigation into the alleged false statement,” it says.

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“If an employee who has attested to being vaccinated exhibits symptoms of COVID-19 illness, the agency should apply its safety protocols, but this is not an appropriate reason to request documentation to verify an employee’s vaccination status,” it adds.

The guidance, and the fine print of the attestation form, also address several other aspects of the attestation policy including that:

• Employees on full-time telework or working remotely are subject to filling out the new Certification of Vaccination form.

• However, an agency need not require employees to fill out the form if it has information that they already are fully vaccinated, for example where they received vaccinations from the agency itself.

• Vaccination information is protected by the Privacy Act and agencies “should only disseminate information to the appropriate agency officials who have a need to know to ensure effective implementation of the safety protocols, which, in many cases, will include the supervisor level.”

• While the information “is intended to be used primarily for internal purposes, in certain circumstances it may be necessary to disclose this information externally.” Such reasons could include, for example, for the collection of public health data, to the MSPB or to arbitrators for personnel appeals, and to other agencies or courts for litigation-related purposes.

• Federal employees visiting another agency are to be treated the same as other visitors, meaning that they would need to complete form there “and, if they are not fully vaccinated or decline to disclose their status, they would need to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test result within the past 3 days. As with other visitors, the employee should keep the form with them during their time onsite at the other agency.”

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2021 Federal Employees Handbook