Is It True That Military Members Have to Be Vaccinated but White House Employees Don’t?

A viral Instagram post, based on a video from Charlie Kirk, claims: “The White House doesn’t mandate the vaccine for its employees but is making active military get the vaccine.”

In the widely shared video, Kirk asks: “Did you know that in the White House, they are not mandating the vaccine?” He continued: “White House staff is not required to get vaccinated. They are requiring the vaccine for the military … and yet the White House is not required to get the vaccine.”

While Kirk leaves out the fact that White House employees who choose not to be vaccinated must submit to regular testing, his statement is mostly true.

On January 29, President Joe Biden announced that all federal employees had to be vaccinated or will be subject to regular testing: “every federal government employee and onsite contractor will be asked to attest to their vaccination status.” According to the press release, anyone who doesn’t agree to vaccination is required to  “wear a mask on the job no matter their geographic location, physically distance from all other employees and visitors, comply with a weekly or twice weekly screening testing requirement, and be subject to restrictions on official travel.”

On August 23, during a press briefing, press secretary Jen Psaki was asked by a reporter if Biden was going to “expand that federal employee vaccine requirement and actually mandate it so there’s no more option of opting out and doing the testing every week?

Psaki answered: “I think you’re looking more at agency to agency or different factions of the government at this point, but expect there will be more on that front.” 

Kirk is correct in noting that military personnel will be required to get the vaccine. Beginning next month, members of the military will need to get the COVID-19 vaccine. According to the Associated Press, Defense Secretary Llyod Austin said that a mid-September deadline could be even sooner depending on if the vaccines receive final FDA approval. In his memo, Austin said: “Mandatory vaccinations are familiar to all Service members, and mission critical inoculation is almost as old as the U.S. military itself.” It’s worth noting, though, that there are religious and medical exceptions in Austin’s mandate, similar to the policies for other required vaccines. 

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