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Officials Declare COVID Health Emergency Over

In 2021, COVID-19 vaccination requirements were put into place, with public health officials noting they were designed to promote the health and safety of individuals and the efficiency of workplaces, protecting vital sectors of the economy and vulnerable populations. Since January 2021, COVID-19 deaths have declined by 95 percent, and hospitalizations are down nearly 91 percent.

Globally, COVID-19 deaths are at their lowest levels since the start of the pandemic.

The Biden Administration ended the COVID-19 vaccine requirements for Federal employees, Federal contractors, and international air travelers at the end of the day on Thursday, May 11, the same day that the COVID-19 public health emergency ended. Additionally, HHS and DHS announced that they will start the process to end their vaccination requirements for Head Start educators, CMS-certified healthcare facilities, and certain noncitizens at the land border.

The Administration’s vaccination requirements were enacted to help ensure the safety of workers in critical workforces including those in the healthcare and education sectors, protecting themselves and the populations they serve, and strengthening their ability to provide services without disruptions to operations. The Federal government implemented requirements for its workforce in a way that increased vaccination to achieve 98 percent compliance, reflecting employees who had received at least one dose of a vaccine or had a pending or approved exception or extension request filed by January 2022. They also put in place vaccination requirements for certain international travelers to slow the spread of new variants entering the country and to allow the healthcare system time to effectively manage access to care if faced with an increase in cases and hospitalizations.

The COVID-19 vaccine requirements bolstered vaccination across the nation. While vaccination remains one of the most important tools in advancing the health and safety of employees and promoting the efficiency of workplaces, they are now in a different phase of the response when these measures are no longer necessary.