Fedweek

Federal employees who suffer side effects when being vaccinated against the Coronavirus under the Biden administration’s mandate can submit claims for injury compensation benefits, the Labor Department has said.

It said that while the Federal Employees Compensation Act does not generally cover preventive measures such as vaccinations, coverage can extend to “complications of preventive measures which are provided or sponsored by the agency.”

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The executive order makes those vaccinations “a requirement of most federal employment. As such, employees impacted by this mandate who receive required COVID-19 vaccinations on or after the date of the executive order [September 9] may be afforded coverage under the FECA for any adverse reactions to the vaccine itself, and for any injuries sustained while obtaining the vaccination.”

“Further, deleterious effects of medical services furnished by the employing establishment are generally considered to fall within the performance of duty. These services include preventive programs relating to health,” it said in a policy bulletin.

Adverse reactions to a vaccination should be reported on the standard injury compensation claim, and for the two-dose vaccines separate reactions would be separate claims, it said. It added that coverage for injuries also would apply to “accidents while commuting a reasonable distance to and from the vaccination site and slip and fall injuries occurring at the vaccination site.”

Decisions on claims will include a consideration of whether the employee followed agency policy in getting the vaccination, it added.

Note: Under early guidance issued in August by the Safe Federal Workforce Task Force, an agency must grant up to 2 workdays of administrative leave if an employee has an adverse reaction to any COVID-19 vaccination dose (i.e., no more than 2 workdays for reactions associated with a single dose). If an employee requests more than 2 workdays to recover, the agency may make a determination to grant emergency paid leave as created by the American Rescue Plan Act -if available- or other appropriate leave (e.g. sick leave) at that point.

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