Vaccine Mandates Raise New Questions About Defense Contracting

Army Spc. Angel Laureano holds a vial of the COVID-19 vaccine, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Bethesda, Md., Dec. 14, 2020. (DoD photo by Lisa Ferdinando)

WASHINGTON ― The new federal vaccine requirement announced by President Joe Biden has fueled questions from employers, including defense contractors, about how the mandate will work and whether they could lose employees as a result.

To slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, Biden announced this month sweeping new orders that require employers with more than 100 workers to mandate vaccinations or offer weekly testing. He also is mandating shots for executive branch workers and federal contractors — with no testing opt-out. The new requirements could cover as many as 100 million Americans.

In public, defense firms have been walking a fine line on the new policy, pledging to continue complying with local, state and federal mandates ― including this one. At the same time, advocates for federal contractors inside and outside the defense industry have expressed concern about what the vaccine will mean for employees. They’re waiting for the government to issue detailed guidance about how it will implement and enforce the sweeping new mandate.

Highlighting the polarization around vaccine mandates, 24 Republican state attorneys general ― some from top states for defense spending, including Texas, Florida and Arizona ― have written to the Biden Administration threatening a lawsuit over vaccine requirements for some employees. Biden, for his part, has brushed aside arguments from Republicans that he’s overreaching and dared them to challenge him.

Read more on Defense News.

Paul Crespo is the Managing Editor of American Defense News. A defense and national security expert, he served as a Marine Corps officer and as a military attaché with the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) at US embassies worldwide. Paul holds degrees from Georgetown, London, and Cambridge Universities. He is also CEO of SPECTRE Global Risk, a security advisory firm, and President of the Center for American Defense Studies, a national security think tank.

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