Those employees have begun receiving mandatory counseling, and dismissals could be a few weeks away, according to the Military Times.
“The process starts with counseling, and if we get to it, it ends with separation,” VA Secretary Denis McDonough told reporters on Wednesday. “But there are a lot of steps along the way.”
The agency did not provide a specific number of officials who are unvaccinated, though about 70% of the roughly 420,000 employees have finished the mandatory paperwork regarding their vaccination status.
The remaining staffers will be contacted in the next couple days to complete those forms.
“We have a responsibility to protect the health of the veterans who are coming to us for their care. And I believe that in certain circumstances, unvaccinated employees pose a serious risk to the health of our veterans.”
McDonough also noted that employees could apply for religious and medical exemptions but that it might require some changes to a staffer’s responsibilities.
“We won’t question the legitimacy of any employee’s religious exemption,” he said. “But we couldn’t allow a non-vaccinated employee to work in [certain] settings.”
The department announced on July 26 that staffers would have eight weeks to get vaccinated. That deadline is Thursday.
To date, at least 219 VA employees have died from complications related to the virus, and roughly one-third of those have come since the vaccine became available through the department on June 1.
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Original Author: Mike Brest
Original Location: Veterans Affairs begins actions against unvaccinated employees