The Biden administration announced May 1 that the COVID-19 vaccine mandates for federal employees, federal contractors and some health care workers will end on May 11, the same day the public health emergency ends.
"While vaccination remains one of the most important tools in advancing the health and safety of employees and promoting the efficiency of workplaces, we are now in a different phase of our response when these measures are no longer necessary," the White House said in a statement. The Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Homeland Security will also start the process of ending their vaccine requirements for Head Start employees and health care workers at many facilities certified by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, according to the White House statement.
The White House also announced vaccination mandates for international travelers will end next week.
The official notice on vaccine mandates comes as the White House winds down the public health emergency, which was issued by President Donald Trump in January 2020. The declaration means a number of provisions will end, including mandates that health insurance plans fully cover COVID-19 testing without employee cost-sharing on both an in- and out-of-network basis. Medical plans, including employer-sponsored plans, do not have to pay for testing and will have to decide how to proceed.
Biden also ended the national COVID-19 emergency on April 10, a month earlier than planned, when he signed a Republican-led resolution bill, H.J. Res. 7.
COVID-19 vaccine mandates were common in 2021, when the inoculations started to become available. Scores of private employers put COVID-19 vaccination mandates in place, including American Express, Goldman Sachs and Walmart. But a few factors, ranging from employee backlash and legal challenges to laws prohibiting such requirements, have made them less common in recent months. In fact, Idaho and Utah recently passed laws to prohibit employers from requiring vaccines. Goldman Sachs lifted its COVID-19 vaccine mandate last fall.
A survey last fall from Mercer found that approximately a third of businesses still required workers to get COVID-19 vaccinations at that time.