Biden administration not mandating COVID vaccines for White House staff, Psaki says

Vaccines not mandated for White House staff but Psaki wouldn't provide specifics

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The Biden administration is not mandating COVID-19 vaccines for White House staff, press secretary Jen Psaki said Friday. 

During the White House press briefing Thursday, Psaki suggested that every White House official had been offered a COVID-19 vaccine, but clarified Friday that the White House was not requiring officials to be vaccinated. 

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"No, we have not mandated it," Psaki responded, after being asked whether the administration was mandating White House staff receive a coronavirus vaccine. 

Psaki did not provide a specific number of how many White House officials have been vaccinated against the novel coronavirus, but said that they are able to track the number of individuals on the president’s staff because "they are vaccinated here in the White House medical unit." 

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As for those who have not been vaccinated, Psaki maintained the public health guidance remains the same for White House officials as for other Americans. 

"Any individual who has chosen not to be vaccinated, same as in the press corps, the public health guidance is to wear a mask," Psaki said. "That is the public health guidance for employees as well." 

Psaki’s comments come after the news that a vaccinated White House official, as well as a vaccinated aide for House Speaker Pelosi, tested positive for COVID-19 after attending the same event. 

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Earlier this week, Psaki said "there have been" other breakthrough positive COVID cases among White House staffers, and maintained the administration’s commitment to disclose positive COVID-19 tests among "commissioned officers." 

"According to an agreement we made during the transition, we committed we would release information proactively," Psaki said, adding that they "continue to abide by that commitment."

Meanwhile, Psaki said that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are tracking breakthrough cases throughout the country.