- Dr. Vivek Murthy on Sunday defended new COVID-19 vaccination mandates for employers introduced by the White House.
- The surgeon general says the administration’s new vaccine mandates will help keep kids in school and keep the economy going.
- Republican governors and politicians have questioned the legality and constitutionality of the vaccine policies.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy on Sunday defended new vaccine mandates from the White House, saying it is both appropriate and legal to require employers with more than 100 employees to mandate COVID-19 vaccines or weekly testing for the virus.
The new vaccine policies are “an appropriate response for us to recognize that if we want our economy to be impacted, if we want our schools to stay in-session, we’ve got to take steps to make sure workplaces and learning environments are safe,” Murthy said on ABC’s This Week.
President Joe Biden announced that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) would be responsible for writing and enforcing these new policies, including sweeping mandates requiring vaccinations for federal employees and companies with more than 100 employees. These rules will directly affect over 17 millions healthcare workers working at facilities that get government funding, and about 80 million employees at large companies. Employers can be fined up to $14,000 for every violation of these guidelines.
Murthy responded to criticism from Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who said it was “fundamentally wrong” for someone to lose their job over their decision to get the COVID vaccine. Murthy said the issue needs to be put “in context.”
“This is not an unusual phenomenon. There are requirements that we put in workplaces and in schools every day to make sure that workplaces in schools are safe,” he said, citing longstanding vaccine requirements against other diseases at schools and hospitals.
“The [COVID] Delta [variant] is a tough foe. It’s throwing curve balls at us and we have to be prepared to respond,” he added.
Legal experts previously told Insider that the new COVID vaccine requirements are the most “substantial” and “far-reaching” in the history of the country, and require careful attention at the details within the language of the policies for them to stick. But countries like France, Greece, and Italy have already begun to see positive results in vaccination rates from widespread mandates.
Murthy also appeared on CNN Sunday to discuss the mandates. “We all in the private sector have to do everything we can to tackle this virus,” he said. “The reason that we’re pursuing some of these requirements is, again, we know a lot of businesses have welcomed it. We know that many — that it will help keep workplaces safe.”
Business Roundtable, a group that represents over 200 executives from companies like Amazon, Walmart, and Apple, says it welcomes Biden’s plan for companies to mandate COVID vaccines or provide weekly COVID testing. Companies were previously worried that self-imposed vaccine mandates would be detrimental to workforce retention, though several companies began requiring vaccinations for in-person employees.
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