Issue Briefs

Following is a question and answer document the Biden administration has issued as a follow-up to a recent OMB memo to agencies on changes to federal workplace safety policies for fully vaccinated employees in light of the latest CDC guidance.


Q: Who is considered fully vaccinated?

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A: People are considered fully vaccinated for COVID-19 ≥2 weeks after they have received the second dose in a 2-dose series (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna), or ≥2 weeks after they have received a single-dose vaccine (Johnson and Johnson (J&J)/Janssen). There is currently no post-vaccination time limit on fully vaccinated status.

This guidance applies to COVID-19 vaccines currently authorized for emergency use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson and Johnson (J&J)/Janssen COVID-19 vaccines. This guidance also applies to COVID-19 vaccines that have been authorized for emergency use by the World Health Organization (e.g., AstraZeneca/Oxford).

Q: Do fully vaccinated Federal employees, onsite contractors, or visitors need to wear a mask or physically distance in Federal buildings or on Federal lands?

A: No, in most settings fully vaccinated people generally do not need to wear a mask or physically distance in Federal buildings or on Federal lands, except where called for by Federal, State, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations. Nothing in CDC guidance precludes an employee from wearing a mask if they so choose. CDC’s guidance for mask-wearing and physical distancing in specific settings, including healthcare, transportation, correctional and detention facilities, and schools, should be followed as applicable. Agencies should communicate with employee representatives and satisfy any applicable collective bargaining obligations prior to implementing changes to policies regarding mask wearing and physical distancing.

Q: Do Federal employees, onsite contractors, and visitors who are not fully vaccinated need to wear a mask or physically distance in Federal buildings or on Federal lands?

A: Yes, people who are not fully vaccinated need to continue to wear a mask and physically distance consistent with CDC guidance and the requirements set forth in Executive Order 13991 and OMB Memorandum M-21-15.

Q: Does the new CDC guidance change occupancy limits or telework status pursuant to M-21-15?

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A: No, the guidance does not change occupancy limits or telework status pursuant to M-21-15.

Q: Should agencies update signs to reflect the latest CDC masking and physical distancing guidance?

A: Yes, agencies should post signs making clear that the masking and physical distancing requirements continue to apply to individuals who are not fully vaccinated.

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