A Critical Warning to Federal Contractors and Subcontractors with Unvaccinated Employees: Time is Running Out to Comply with President Biden’s Vaccination Mandate

by Zachary T. Zeid and Snigdha Mamillapalli

On September 9, 2021, President Biden issued Presidential Executive Order 14042, Ensuring Adequate COVID Safety Protocols for Federal Contractors (the EO). In the EO, the President requires that certain contracts with the federal government include a clause that the contractor and any subcontractors (at any tier) comply with all guidance published by the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force for the duration of the contract. On September 24, 2021, the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force issued its first iteration of this guidance titled “COVID-19 Workplace Safety: Guidance for Federal Contractors and Subcontractors” (the “Guidance”). The Guidance requires full-time and part-time employees of federal contractors and subcontractors in the United States to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by December 8, 2021 unless granted an accommodation for legitimate religious or medical reasons.

According to the CDC, a person is considered “fully vaccinated” two weeks after their second dose in a two-dose series (such as Pfizer or Moderna), or two weeks after a single dose vaccine (such as Johnson & Johnson). Importantly, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines also require 21 days and 28 days respectively between the first and second doses. As a result, the vaccination process can take up to 42 days (28 days between doses + 14 days until considered “fully vaccinated”). In light of this, time is running out for federal contractors and subcontractors to comply with the executive order’s vaccination requirements.

To be fully vaccinated by December 8, employees must begin their vaccinations no later than the following dates:

Vaccine Date

Moderna (2-dose series)

October 27, 2021 (latest date to start first dose)

Pfizer (2-dose series)

November 3, 2021 (latest date to start first dose)

Johnson & Johnson (Single-dose series)

November 24, 2021

With October 27 rapidly approaching, federal contractors and subcontractors who do not have mandatory vaccination policies in place should act quickly to implement them.  Given the time sensitivity, policies should communicate that employees who elect to receive a two-dose vaccine must receive the second dose as prescribed by the CDC and manufacturer guidelines on the 21st and 28th days. In all circumstances, the latest date by which an employee may receive the second dose is November 24, 2021.

The Executive Order applies to the vast majority of federal contractors and subcontractors.  Failure to comply with these requirements could result in the contractor being rendered ineligible to bid or to be awarded future federal contracts at both the prime contractor and subcontractor levels and could impact existing federal contracts where performance is ongoing.

Our Labor and Employment attorneys have been working closely with federal contractors to navigate these types of issues and can assist your organization in determining whether these requirements apply, and if so, how to ensure compliance. Pullman & Comley has policy templates (including vaccination policy templates and exemption request forms, FAQs and other useful resources and sample communications for employees, vendors and subcontractors) to assist your organization in addressing these complicated issues. Please contact any of Pullman & Comley’s Labor and Employment attorneys for more information.

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