45K VA employees still unvaccinated (and employed) as deadline passes

(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)

The deadline for federal employees at the Veterans Administration to provide proof of vaccination was Friday. As it turns out, there are still more than 45,000 VA workers who have not provided a CDC card or other proof of vaccination as of this morning. One question we might ask is why there is such a high rate of vaccine hesitancy right in Joe Biden’s backyard. Are they not all onboard with the whole “build back better” thing? But what is probably the more pressing question would be why these people are still showing up for work. Isn’t Biden “fed up” with the ongoing “threat” posed by the unvaccinated? Shouldn’t they have been fired already? The VA is saying they “may eventually face disciplinary action,” but there certainly doesn’t seem to be much of a sense of urgency about it thus far. (Government Executive)

Friday marked the deadline for the vast majority of Veterans Affairs Department employees to complete their COVID-19 vaccination, though more than 45,000 have yet to demonstrate that they have done so.

Those employees may eventually face disciplinary action, including being fired, but VA is giving them 10 more days to submit the requisite documentation or request an exemption. The 380,000 VA employees working in or near the health care field faced a deadline of Oct. 8 to receive their vaccines, about six weeks earlier than the rest of the federal workforce, due to the department issuing its own mandate independently of the one put in place by President Biden.

About 88% of the impacted workforce has so far received a shot, according to data VA has collected. Employees must submit documentation of their vaccination by Oct. 18, or request a religious or medical accommodation. The Biden-created Safer Federal Workforce Task Force has directed agencies to determine whether an exemption is legally required by examining the basis for the claim, the nature of the employee’s job and its impact on agency operations.

This is yet more inconsistency from the government, further exposing the nature of the pandemic theater that we’re all watching play out. Many municipal governments, including New York City, took Biden’s orders seriously. When the deadline arrived for the New York City school district last Monday, unvaccinated teachers were told not to bother showing up, despite the order causing hundreds of classrooms to be missing teachers. But somehow, right in Washington, DC, and across the nation, unvaccinated VA workers are still showing up and collecting a paycheck in defiance of the mandate.

So what does Denis McDonough, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs have to say about all of this? He might try to argue that the “official” deadline for all federal workers as set by Joe Biden isn’t until the 18th, so that’s why they are being given 10 more days. But the early VA deadline was specifically imposed because so many of the VA’s employees work around hospital patients and those seeking medical treatment. Is that reason suddenly not valid for another ten days?

Some workers may be able to claim they’ve been granted an exemption, but from what we’ve heard thus far, exemptions are as rare as hen’s teeth. McDonough’s spokesperson was asked how many workers had received exemptions, but he wasn’t even able to say how many people had applied for one. And besides, the White House already said they may still fire people with exemptions if they feel like it.

But all of that tough talk isn’t being followed up with concrete action. The same VA spokesperson, Terrence Hayes, went on to say that the agency will “begin disciplining unvaccinated staff” after the new deadline, but that doesn’t mean an immediate pink slip. They will first review all of the cases individually. And – again – we’re talking about nearly 50,000 cases. The department will “weigh various factors” in determining what discipline, if any, is appropriate. Those who merit discipline under these “factors” will first receive “counseling.”

If that doesn’t work, they will receive a suspension of no more than 14 days. By then we should be well into next year before any of them actually get their walking papers. As I mentioned above, that sort of kid-glove treatment is a far cry from what many state and municipal workers faced from employers who actually followed Uncle Joe’s orders to the letter.

As a reminder, there are a quarter-million more federally employed postal workers in the country than employees of the VA, and not a single one of them has even been asked if they’ve been vaccinated, to say nothing of being forced to do so. Their union made sure of that and Joe Biden and congressional Democrats cashed a lot of big checks from that union in 2020 and in prior elections. Money speaks loudly in the swamp. Perhaps the union representing the VA workers needs to get busy writing bigger checks.

This little episode should once again make one thing crystal clear. The hypocrisy of the Biden administration is appalling. There is simply no reason to take any of these people seriously.