Travelers wearing protective masks receive nasal swabs from nurses at a COVID-19 test site inside Terminal B at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), on Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020.
Bing Guan | Bloomberg | Getty Images
The Biden administration will end its Covid-19 vaccine mandates for federal employees, contractors and international air travelers next week.
The White House said in a statement Monday that those vaccine requirements will end on May 11, the same day the Covid public health emergency expires.
“While vaccination remains one of the most important tools in advancing the health and safety of employees and promoting the efficiency of workplaces, we are now in a different phase of our response when these measures are no longer necessary,” the White House said.
Although Covid cases, hospitalizations and deaths have declined dramatically this year, the virus is still killing more than 1,000 people per week.
The Health and Human Services Department also will start phasing out its vaccine mandate for health-care facilities that participate in Medicare and Medicaid, the White House said. In addition, it will end vaccination requirements for Head Start programs.
And the Department of Homeland Security will lift vaccination requirements for people entering the U.S via its land borders with Canada and Mexico, according to the Biden administration. U.S. citizens, nationals and permanent residents were never subject to those requirements.
HHS and DHS will provide more details on the end of these vaccine requirements in the coming days, the White House said.
The Biden administration implemented the vaccine requirements for health workers, federal employees, contractors, and international air travelers as part of its drive to boost lackluster vaccination rates and slow the spread of the virus as the delta variant surged in late 2021 followed by omicron in the winter of 2022.
The mandates faced fierce opposition and lawsuits from critics who decried the requirements as government overreach, while the White House stressed they were essential to protect public health.