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New data shows more than 90 percent of federal workers and military members have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine.
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92 percent of federal employees vaccinated
The White House released a detailed set of data showing compliance with the administration's vaccine mandate among federal workers.
Ninety-two percent of federal government employees have received at least one COVID-19 vaccination dose as of Tuesday, the deadline for federal workers to comply with the coronavirus vaccine mandate President Biden announced 75 days prior.
Another roughly 4.5 percent of federal employees are considered to be in compliance with the mandate because they have a pending or approved exception request for vaccination, meaning the total percentage of the workforce complying is 96.5 percent.
There are more than 3.5 million employees working for the federal government. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) said in a statement that employees who are not in compliance with the mandate will face a period of education and counseling.
"This week's deadline wasn't an end point," the announcement said.
The leaders: The agency with the highest vaccination rate, according to OMB data released Wednesday, is the Agency for International Development, at 97.8 percent.
The next highest vaccination rates are 96.4 percent at the Department of Health and Human Services, 96.2 percent at the National Science Foundation and 96.1 percent at the Department of State.
Low point: The agencies with the lowest percentage of employees vaccinated are the Department of Agriculture, at 86.1 percent, and the Social Security Administration, at 87.7 percent.
Fauci: Standard for full vax 'could change'
Top infectious diseases expert Anthony Fauci said changing the definition of what qualifies a person as fully vaccinated to include a booster shot is "on the table."
"Right now, officially, fully vaccinated equals two shots of the mRNA and one shot of the J&J, but without a doubt that could change," Fauci said in an interview for the upcoming Reuters Next conference, Reuters reported.
"That's on the table for discussion," he added.
The consideration comes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that booster shots can be given to anyone above the age of 18.
"We'd like to get as many people who were originally vaccinated with the first regimen boosted," Fauci said, adding he hopes to see an "overwhelming majority" get the booster shot.
Proof of full vaccination has been required by many venues across the country and in some major cities has been required for dining in at restaurants.
Fauci's comments to Reuters also come as COVID-19 cases are beginning to rise again in the U.S. In response to the increase, he also recently warned against "prematurely" dropping mask mandates.
WHO WARNS EUROPE OF 'FALSE SENSE OF SECURITY'
The World Health Organization (WHO) is recommending that the public in Europe practice social distancing and masking, regardless of their vaccination status, as case rates skyrocket there, according to CNBC.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that parts of Europe have fallen into a "false sense of security," believing there is no risk of COVID-19 to the vaccinated and that the danger of infection has passed, even as Europe has become the "epicenter of the pandemic," reports CNBC.
"Even if you're vaccinated, continue to take precautions to prevent becoming infected yourself, and to infecting someone else who could die," Tedros said, according to CNBC. "That means wearing a mask, maintaining distance, avoiding crowds and meeting others outside if you can, or in a well-ventilated space inside."
Some European countries - such as Hungary, the Netherlands, Slovakia and the Czech Republic - have this week reported their highest daily COVID-19 infections since the start of the pandemic.
HOSPITAL WORKERS SEEK SUPREME COURT RELIEF
A group of health care workers on Tuesday asked the Supreme Court for an exemption from their Boston-based hospital's mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy.
The challenge to Mass General Brigham, Inc.'s (MGB) mandate was filed to Justice Stephen Breyer, who handles emergency matters arising from the region.
The case concerns eight MGB employees whose requests for religious or medical exemptions were denied. After their continued refusal to get vaccinated by their employer's Nov. 5 deadline, the workers were placed on unpaid leave and some were ultimately fired.
Past challenges to vaccine mandates have not been successful: the Supreme Court recently rejected challenges to vaccine mandates by Maine health workers, New York City public school teachers and a group of students at Indiana University.
Juul to pay $14.5M to settle Arizona lawsuit
E-cigarette maker Juul will pay $14.5 million to Arizona, and will no longer market or sell its products to young people in the state, as part of a settlement for a consumer fraud lawsuit.
The settlement announced by state Attorney General Mark Brnovich (R) Tuesday ends a lawsuit filed in January 2020 against the company for allegedly illegally marketing its products to young people while misleading them on the risks.
Brnovich, who is running for Senate, alleged that Juul was "exploiting young people with tactics such as fruit flavors, social media campaigns, and free giveaways."
As part of the settlement, Juul denied the allegations and did not admit any wrongdoing. But the company agreed to change some aspects of how it does business in the state.
All but $2 million of the $14.5 million will be used for programs to stop youth vaping, including cessation programs and education programs to prevent future youth e-cigarette use.
Juul agreed to implement a strict retailer monitoring program where it will do compliance checks of at least 25 stores per month across Arizona for two years and take action against those that illegally sell to underage smokers.
Juul also agreed not to advertise near schools or target anyone under 21, and pledged not to use social media to market. But Juul hasn't done any advertising at all since 2019.
WHAT WE'RE READING
What the world could learn from Israel's Covid-19 vaccine booster rollout (CNN)
When the eye on older patients is a camera (Kaiser Health News)
G.O.P. fights Covid mandates, then blames Biden as cases rise (New York Times)
STATE BY STATE
Maryland launches free at-home rapid COVID-19 testing program (DCist)
Massachusetts hospitals with limited capacity ordered to reduce elective procedures (CBS 4)
COVID-19 cases in Colorado children drop; health officials warn they can rise after holiday gatherings (Denver Post)
OP-ED IN THE HILL
That's it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill's health care page for the latest news and coverage. See you Monday.