The White House has previously been wary of any kind of vaccine requirements, preferring to focus on making the shots easily accessible and nudging people toward getting inoculated.
The Department of Veterans Affairs announced its own vaccine requirement this week for the agency’s health care workers and gave them eight weeks to comply.
Similar steps are also being taken by private companies and local governments. Los Angeles announced Tuesday that city workers would need to submit proof of vaccination or undergo weekly testing.
“We need unvaccinated Angelenos to stop dragging their feet,” City Council President Nury Martinez said. “As the largest employer in the city of Los Angeles, this is us doing our part.”
Google said Wednesday that it would require its employees to get vaccinated before returning to the company’s offices around the world.
Mandates or vaccine passports have been controversial ideas, especially with some Republicans and right-wing commentators dialing up the outrage over heavy-handed government initiatives.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Wednesday that some people are “sort of allergic” to mandates of any kind.
“I don’t want to turn them off,” she said in an interview with Dr. Marc Siegel on SiriusXM’s “Doctor Radio Reports.”
Her agency already faced some backlash Tuesday when it recommended that people wear masks indoors in public settings in areas where COVID-19 is surging, even though it does not have the authority to require Americans to follow its guidance.
Walensky said that requiring vaccines at this point could be tricky because the Food and Drug Administration has authorized them only on an emergency basis and the full approval process could last several more months.