Surgeon General Murthy: Vaccine Mandate for Smaller Businesses Not Off the Table

Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week” that President Biden’s administration has not ruled out a federal vaccine requirement for small businesses.

Anchor Martha Raddatz said, “Labor Secretary Marty Walsh defending those new vaccines and testing requirements for companies with 100 or more employees. It comes amid pushback over two dozen states and a new legal challenge in court.”

She added, “Let’s start with those legal challenges. The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday blocked the mandate citing grave and statutory and constitutional issues. I know you’re not a lawyer, but is the administration confident this can survive the legal challenges?”

Murthy said, “Well, Martha, the president and the administration wouldn’t have put these requirements in place if they didn’t think they were appropriate and necessary. The administration is certainly prepared to defend them, but let’s step back for a moment and just look at why these are so important. Throughout our history that we have seen, we had to use vaccine requirements to protect the population, starting back with George Washington when he required troops be inoculated for smallpox, and schools started having vaccine requirements. If you think about our workplace, it’s important our workplaces are safe, that workers feel safe, and our customers feel safe. We know at this point in the pandemic when we’ve come so far, and we have 75,000 cases a day, it’s important we take every measure possible to make our workplaces safer.”

Raddatz asked, “If the law survives legal challenges, will the administration be extending the mandate to smaller employers with fewer than 100 employees?”

Murthy said, “Well, Martha, certainly nothing is off the table at this moment, but the focus is implementing the current rule that OSHA put out. Let me just emphasize that what we put out in a report recently is that average businesses that put these requirements in place see a 20% vaccination rate increase, boosting them in the 90s. If vaccines are a key pathway out of the pandemic, this will do a lot to get us toward the finish line.”

Follow Pam Key on Twitter @pamkeyNEN

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