Fully vaccinated federal employees no longer need to wear masks in federal buildings, OMB has said, while adding that that is the only change being made “for now” in response to the latest CDC guidance on pandemic-related safety practices.
In an email to agencies, OMB defined “fully vaccinated” for that purpose as those who are at least two weeks past their final dose of vaccine. Those who don’t meet that definition are to “continue to wear a mask consistent with the requirements set forth in your agency workplace safety plan,” it said, adding that those policies also apply to contractor employees and visitors in federal buildings.
The email noted that under President Biden’s executive order on mask wearing and other pandemic safety practices in the federal workplace, mask wearing and other practices are subject to change according to CDC guidance such as last week’s loosening of mask wearing requirements for fully vaccinated people.
“For now, this change related to masking is the only change to federal workplace COVID-19 safety guidance – maximum telework and workplace occupancy limits remain in place – but we will continue to update based on public health guidance,” it said.
There is no government-wide count of the number of federal employees who have been fully or partially vaccinated, although the DoD and the VA—which together account for about half of the non-postal workforce—do report data. DoD says that some 234,000 employees have been fully vaccinated and another 63,000 partially vaccinated out of a workforce of some 750,000, while VA reports 291,000 fully vaccinated out of a workforce of some 370,000.
In both cases, the numbers likely are higher since the figures include only vaccinations administered by the departments and in the case of DoD, also those that employees have voluntarily reported receiving elsewhere.