Fedweek

The administration has addressed many of the mechanics of its vaccine mandate for federal employees, including stating that agencies “must require documentation from employees to prove vaccination, even if an employee has previously attested to their vaccination status.”

Under the prior “attestation” policy, employees did not have to show proof except if the agency had reason to believe that they had falsely stated they were vaccinated. The latest guidance, released September 16, says this:

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“Employees may provide a copy of the record of immunization from a health care provider or pharmacy, a copy of the COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card, a copy of medical records documenting the vaccination, a copy of immunization records from a public health or state immunization information system, or a copy of any other official documentation containing required data points. The data that must be on any official documentation are the type of vaccine administered, date(s) of administration, and the name of the health care professional(s) or clinic site(s) administering the vaccine(s). Employees must certify under penalty of perjury that the documentation they are submitting is true and correct.”

It adds, “Employees may provide a digital copy of such records, including, for example, a digital photograph, scanned image, or PDF of such a record that clearly and legibly displays the information outlined above.”

Other procedural points in the latest guidance include:

· To meet the November 22 deadline for being fully vaccinated, employees would have to receive the first of the doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine by October 18 and October 11, respectively. The latest for the one-dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine would be November 8. However, it adds that “depending on employees’ locations, they may not have all types of vaccines available to them. Agencies should encourage employees to plan ahead.”

· The vaccination mandate applies “regardless of where” employees are working. “Employees who are on maximum telework or working remotely are not excused from this requirement, including because employees working offsite may interact with the public as part of their duties and agencies may need to recall employees who are on maximum telework or working remotely.”

· Agencies “should take steps to make their employees aware of convenient opportunities to be vaccinated” but they are not required to provide vaccinations at their facilities or worksites. They “may choose to do so.”

· While the policies may implicate union contract provisions and therefore require bargaining, negotiations “will be limited to impact and implementation issues not otherwise addressed in the guidance. Moreover, agencies must implement government-wide policy by the deadline, so any bargaining that has not been completed by the time implementation must begin will have to be finished post-implementation.”

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As with the prior attestation policy, the new guidance addresses how agencies are to keep that information, including the Privacy Act’s requirement that only those with a “need to know” are to have access to it. Further as under that policy, federal employees going to another agency are to be treated as visitors—meaning they would have to complete a Certification of Vaccination form there and, if they are not fully vaccinated, show proof of a negative COVID-19 test result within the last 3 days.

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2021 Federal Employees Handbook