How Well Are Federal Employees Complying with the Vaccine Mandate?

New data from the White House show how well federal employees and their agencies have complied with the vaccine mandate so far.

The White House is touting an overall compliance rate of 96.5% with President Biden’s federal employee vaccine mandate.

The figure is based on data released today by the White House Office of Management and Budget and includes federal employees who have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine or a pending or approved exception or extension.

Out of the 96.5% compliance rate, 92% of federal employees have received at least one vaccine dose according to OMB.

The deadline for the vaccine mandate was Monday, November 22.

OMB also said in its news release that the vaccination mandate has not disrupted any government functions or services.

“As the successful implementation of this requirement across the Federal Government has shown, these requirements work: they increase vaccination rates—leading to a safer, more productive, and efficient workforce. They’re good for workers, good for businesses, and good for the country,” stated OMB in its blog post.

What Happens to Non-Complaint Federal Employees?

What about federal employees who refuse to get the vaccine? They will be subject to an “education and counseling” period to teach them about all of the benefits of the COVID vaccinations.

According to guidelines from the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force (Task Force), federal agencies should educate their employees for a “brief” five day period as to why the vaccinations are good for them:

Consistent with the Administration’s policy, agencies should initiate an enforcement process to work with employees to encourage their compliance. Accordingly, agencies should initiate the enforcement process with a brief period of education and counseling (5 days), including providing employees with information regarding the the benefits of vaccination and ways to obtain the vaccine. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists the benefits of the COVID vaccines that will presumably be given to these federal employees during the education and counseling sessions.

If the education process fails to persuade the non-compliant employees, the disciplinary process is ramped up from there. According to the Task Force guidelines:

If the employee does not demonstrate progress toward becoming fully vaccinated through completion of a required vaccination dose or provision of required documentation by the end of the counseling and education period, it should be followed by a short suspension (14 days or less). Continued noncompliance during the suspension can be followed by proposing removal. Unique operational needs of agencies and the circumstances affecting a particular employee may warrant departure from these guidelines if necessary, but consistency across government in enforcement of this government-wide vaccine policy is desired, and the Executive Order does not permit exceptions from the vaccination requirement except as required by law.

Federal employees who continue to refuse to comply with the vaccine mandate could eventually be removed from their jobs. According to Government Executive, suspensions could begin as early as next month at the Justice Department, and terminations could start as soon as January for federal employees who remain non-compliant.

OMB stressed in its blog post that the additional enforcement actions will not disrupt government services and insisted that the next phase of the process would result in yet more federal employees getting vaccinated:

At any point [during the enforcement process], if an employee gets their first shot or submits an exception request, agencies will pause further enforcement to give the employee a reasonable amount of time to become fully vaccinated or to process the exception request. This next stage of the process will not result in disruptions to Government services and operations and will result in more employees becoming vaccinated.

Agency-Wide Vaccination Compliance Rates

The table below contains the data provided by OMB which show the overall compliance rates with the federal employee vaccine mandate as of November 24, 2021.

Again, the compliance percentages represent the number of agency employees who have received at least one dose of a vaccine or who have a pending or approved exception or extension.

The vaccination percentages represent the “percentage of agency employees covered by a vaccination requirement with at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccination.”

AgencyAgency-wide compliance percentage1Agency-wide vaccination percentage2
Agency for International Development99.1%97.8%
Department of Agriculture95.6%86.1%
Department of Commerce399.4%93.9%
Department of Defense496.1%93.4%
Department of Education98.2%95.0%
Department of Energy98.8%91.0%
Department of Health and Human Services398.8%96.4%
Department of Homeland Security595.1%88.9%
Department of Housing and Urban Development98.3%92.7%
Department of the Interior94.7%88.3%
Department of Justice97.4%89.8%
Department of Labor98.0%93.3%
Department of State97.4%96.1%
Department of Transportation99.6%90.6%
Department of Treasury98.3%91.5%
Department of Veterans Affairs98.0%87.8%
Environmental Protection Agency395.3%92.1%
General Services Administration98.9%92.9%
National Aeronautics and Space Administration95.6%90.7%
National Science Foundation98.6%96.2%
Nuclear Regulatory Commission97.6%92.4%
Office of Personnel Management99.0%90.7%
Small Business Administration99.1%90.0%
Social Security Administration95.0%87.7%
  1. Percentage of agency employees covered by a vaccination requirement with at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccination or a pending or approved exception or extension
  2. Percentage of agency employees covered by a vaccination requirement with at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccination
  3. Includes both civilian and Commissioned Corps personnel
  4. Includes both Department of Defense civilian and active duty personnel
  5. Includes both civilian and Coast Guard active duty personnel

About the Author

Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of He has over 20 years of combined experience in media and government services, having worked at two government contracting firms and an online news and web development company prior to his current role at FedSmith.