Even more VA employees now required to be vaccinated against COVID-19

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Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough expanded his previous COVID-19 vaccine mandate. Photo credit Samuel Corum/Getty Images

Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough expanded his previous COVID-19 vaccine mandate today to apply to most Veterans Health Administration employees and volunteers and contractors who work in VHA facilities, visit VHA facilities, or otherwise come into contact with VA patients and healthcare workers as part of their duties.

“We’re now including most VHA employees and volunteers and contractors in the vaccine mandate because it remains the best way to keep Veterans safe, especially as the Delta variant spreads across the country,” McDonough said in a release.

In July, the VA became the first major federal agency to mandate health care workers get the vaccine. That move was applauded by many Veterans Service and medical organizations.

Under the expanded mandate, employees who will need to be vaccinated include Hybrid Title 38 and Title 5 VA health care personnel. That includes psychologists, pharmacists, social workers, nursing assistants, physical therapists, respiratory therapists, peer specialists, medical support assistants, engineers, housekeepers and other clinical, administrative, and infrastructure support employees who come into contact with VA patients and healthcare workers.

“This pandemic is not over and VA must do everything in our power to protect veterans from COVID-19,” added McDonough.

As with the previous mandate, affected employees will have eight weeks to provide proof of vaccination.

All VA employees are eligible to be vaccinated at no personal expense at any of its facilities. Employees will also receive four hours of paid administrative leave after demonstrating they have been vaccinated.

Reach Julia LeDoux at Julia@connectingvets.com.

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