November 28, 2021

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Federal Contractor Vaccine Updates: January 18 “Fully Vaccinated” Deadline and New FAQs | Jackson Lewis P.C.

3 min read

On November 10, the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force again updated the binding Guidance for Federal Contractors and Subcontractors implementing Executive Order 14042, and issued new and updated FAQs for federal contractors.

January 18, 2022 “Full Vaccination” Deadline is “Official”

The first order of business was to officially extend the full vaccination deadline from December 8, 2021 to January 4, 2022, as stated in the White House Fact Sheet regarding the OSHA Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS).  As we addressed last week, the deadline was extended to correspond with the ETS and CMS deadlines.   Specifically, the fact sheet stated employees falling under the ETS, CMS, or federal contractor rules will need to have their final vaccination dose – either their second dose of Pfizer or Moderna, or single dose of Johnson & Johnson – by January 4, 2022.

Recall, however, that the Executive Order’s definition of “fully vaccinated” is two weeks after a last vaccine shot:

  • Fully vaccinated – 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. There is currently no post-vaccination time limit on fully vaccinated status; should such a limit be determined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, that limit will be considered by the Task Force and OMB for possible updating of this Guidance.

Thus, the critical deadline is January 18, two weeks after the deadline to get a final dose.  January 4 will be the last day a covered employee could receive a final dose and be fully vaccinated by January 18.

Given the Fact Sheet is not itself regulatory action, there was some confusion as to whether the deadline had been “officially” extended, especially given that the ETS was subsequently enjoined by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal.  Because the Guidance implements Executive Order 14042, the deadline has now been officially extended.  One note, however:  the current version of the Guidance refers to the deadline as January 18, “2021” rather than 2022.

New and Updated FAQs

 None of the new or updated FAQs is particularly significant but they are helpful.  A new FAQ provides a link to signage for employees regarding the vaccine, masking and distancing requirements:

  • NEW Q: Is there sample signage that a covered contractor can post at entrances to covered contractor workplaces providing information on safety protocols?
  • A: Yes. Covered contractors should post signage at entrances to covered contractor workplaces providing information on safety protocols for fully vaccinated and not fully vaccinated individuals and instruct individuals to follow the appropriate workplace safety protocols while at the covered contractor workplace. Sample signage for areas of high or substantial levels of community transmission can be found here. Sample signage for areas of low or moderate levels of community transmission can be found here.

Another updates CDC guidance regarding when a vaccination should be delayed.

Given the new deadline, this FAQ has also been updated:

  • UPDATED Q: Are the workplace safety protocols enumerated in the Task Force Guidance for Federal Contractors and Subcontractors the same irrespective of whether the work is performed at a covered contractor workplace or at a Federal workplace?
  • A: Yes. The Task Force Guidance applies to all covered contractor employees and to all contractor or subcontractor workplace locations.  While at a Federal workplace, covered contractor employees must also comply with any additional agency workplace safety requirements for that workplace. Because covered contractor employees working on a covered contract need to be fully vaccinated after January 18, 2021, covered contractor employees who work only at a Federal workplace need to be fully vaccinated by that date as well, unless legally entitled to an accommodation.

We are monitoring the Task Force website on a daily basis for updates to the Guidance and the FAQs, so please check back soon.

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