12 November 2021

Federal Contractor Vaccination Deadline Now January 18, 2022

In a short six-week span the deadline for employees covered by the federal contractor vaccine mandate to become fully vaccinated against COVID-19 has morphed three times—from December 8 to January 4 to January 18.  The new deadline aligns the deadline for the federal contractor mandate with that of the (currently-stayed) OSHA vaccine-or-testing mandate that was released by the Biden administration on November 4.

On September 9, 2021 President Biden signed Executive Order 14042 that enacted a mandatory vaccination requirement for federal government contractors, who employ nearly 25% of American workers.  Executive Order 14042 did not contain a specific deadline by which employees must be vaccinated, but merely stated that the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force would issue details implementing the Order.  On September 27 the Task Force issued its Guidance (including FAQs) indicating that federal contractor employees must be fully vaccinated (or receive an exemption) no later than December 8, 2021.  Building in a two-week ramp up period, the Guidance stated that

People are considered fully vaccinated for COVID-19 two weeks after they have received the second dose in a two-dose series, or two weeks after they have received a single-dose vaccine.

On November 4, 2021 the U.S. Department of Labor issued its OSHA Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) for businesses with at least 100 employees.  That ETS established a January 4, 2022 deadline for covered employees to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.  In order to eliminate the confusion of multiple deadlines, the White House announced that all employees would face the same vaccination deadline:

[T]he deadline for workers to receive their shots will be the same under the OSHA rule, the CMS rule, and the previously-announced federal contractor vaccination requirement.  Employees falling under the ETS, CMS, or federal contractor rules will need to have their final vaccination dose—either second dose of Pfizer or Moderna, or single dose of Johnson & Johnson—by January 4, 2022.

In what was perhaps an inadvertent oversight, there was no mention of the Task Force Guidance’s two-week period after a final dose to be deemed “fully vaccinated.”

On November 10 the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force cleared up the inconsistency when it updated its Guidance.  In re-establishing the two-week period following a final dose, the official deadline is now January 18, 2022:

Covered contractors must ensure that all covered contractor employees are fully vaccinated for COVID-19, unless the employee is legally entitled to an accommodation. Covered contractor employees must be fully vaccinated no later than January 18, 2022.

Thus, the moving target date for employees covered by the federal contractor mandate is now January 4, 2022 for their final vaccination dose, in order to be considered “fully vaccinated” by January 18.  As further updates occur, we will keep you posted.