Department of Veterans Affairs will require health workers to be vaccinated

This May 19, 2014 photo shows a sign in front of the Veterans Affairs building in Washington, DC. The Department of Veterans Affairs will require many of its frontline health workers to be vaccinated, a senior administration official told CNN on July 26.

The Department of Veterans Affairs will require many of its frontline health workers to be vaccinated, the agency announced on Monday, making it the first area of the federal government to require shots among some of its workers.

It was a major step from the administration toward backing vaccine requirements, which it had until now been reluctant to support.

"We're mandating vaccines for Title 38 employees because it's the best way to keep Veterans safe, especially as the Delta variant spreads across the country," Secretary of Veterans Affairs Denis McDonough said in a news release. "Whenever a Veteran or VA employee sets foot in a VA facility, they deserve to know that we have done everything in our power to protect them from COVID-19. With this mandate, we can once again make — and keep — that fundamental promise."

The VA said four employees had recently died of Covid-19, all of whom were unvaccinated -- and at least three of those deaths were due to the Delta variant. Employees will receive four hours of paid administrative leave after demonstrating they have been vaccinated.

Press secretary Jen Psaki said the White House supported the call made Monday by a large collective of medical associations that vaccines be mandated for all US health personnel.

"These actions, in our view, are meant to keep patients and employees safe and in fact, I expect our own federal health care providers may look at similar requirements as they do with other vaccines," she said.

The New York Times was first to report on the move.

This story is breaking and will be updated.

The-CNN-Wire

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