CDC Director Walensky avoids question on vaccine mandate for essential workers

Biden signed a federal employee vaccine mandate in September

Centers for Disease Control Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky remains coy on whether the Biden administration would support COVID-19 vaccine mandates for essential workers or students

President Biden signed an executive order on Sept. 9 that required federal employees to receive a vaccine. Some cities have enacted similar policies despite immense resistance from the very workers the policies intended to protect. 

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Walensky refused to be drawn on direct comments regarding support for further vaccine mandates - particularly, one for essential workers. Instead, she focused on the need for vaccines and the ways in which the administration would encourage workers to get the vaccine. 

"The most disruptive thing you can do to a workforce is to have a Covid outbreak in that workforce," Walensky told "Fox News Sunday" host Chris Wallace. "That will most definitely not only send people home but it will send people to the hospital and some may pass."

Walensky said that the administration has "a plan" to encourage vaccinations and would point the more hesitant essential workers towards "education and counseling to get people the information they need." She cited numbers that showed that more police officers over the past year have died from COVID-19 than from all other causes of death combined. 

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Police have remained a particularly resistant group. Major cities including Chicago and Los Angeles have enacted mandates for the police force, with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio weighing his own possible mandate. 

A New York City police union has threatened legal action over a possible mandate, even though 70% of officers have already been vaccinated. 

Walensky also avoided a question on whether the administration would support a vaccine mandate for school-aged children. She discussed the need to get authorization and approval before discussing any mandates. 

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"Right now we are at authorization, we're having discussions about authorization, so I think we need to get children vaccinated through this authorization and get to approval before we can make a judgment there," Walensky said. 

California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Oct. 1 signed a vaccine requirement for eligible school children to attend in-person lessons. The mandate, which does provide medical and personal belief exemptions, has prompted protests from some parents who suggest pulling their children out of school. 

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"Parents and concerned citizens all over CA are taking action against the forced COVID-19 vaccine mandate for our children in state schools. We demand parental choice over the bodily autonomy of our children," a Twitter flyer said, according to the Patch