Safer Federal Workforce Task Force Updates Guidance for Federal Contractors

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On November 10th, the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force (“Task Force”) updated its Guidance for Federal Contractors (“Guidance”). As discussed in earlier updates, all federal contracts meeting certain criteria issued after November 15th incorporate the Guidance through FAR Clause 52.223-99 (Deviation) or an agency-specific version of it.

What Do I Need to Know?

The most important thing to know is that the Task Force pushed back the deadline for full vaccination of covered contractor employees (please see earlier updates for the definition of covered contractor employees). Instead of December 8, 2021, the new deadline is January 18, 2022. Be aware that this is the deadline for “full” vaccination, which means that the employee has received their final dose of whichever vaccine course they elect by January 4th.

Other Helpful Knowledge

The Task Force also updated their FAQs with some helpful knowledge.

Recommended Signage

Part of the Task Force Guidance requires covered contractors (please see earlier updates for the definition of a covered contractor) to post COVID-19 safety information at entrances to covered contractor workplaces (again, please see earlier updates for definitions). The Task Force has now published sample signs. If the covered contractor workplace is in a high or substantial community transmission location, the Task Force recommends these signs. For low or moderate transmission locations, the Task Force recommends these signs. To find out if your workplace is in a high, substantial, low, or moderate community transmission location, please see the Centers for Disease Control website here.

Delayed Vaccination

The Task Force also identified situations in which the Centers for Disease Control recommends delaying vaccination, including:

  • Vaccination of people with known current SARS-CoV-2 infection should be delayed until the person has recovered from the acute illness (if the person had symptoms), and they have met criteria to discontinue isolation.
  • People with a history of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in adults (MIS-A) should consider delaying vaccination until they have recovered from their illness and for 90 days after the date of diagnosis of MIS-A.
  • Vaccination should be delayed for 90 days after receiving monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma for COVID-19 treatment.
  • Whenever possible, mRNA COVID-19 vaccination doses (including the primary series and an additional dose) or the single dose Johnson and Johnson (J&J)/Janssen vaccine should be completed at least two weeks before initiation or resumption of immunosuppressive therapies, but timing of COVID-19 vaccination should take into consideration current or planned immunosuppressive therapies and optimization of both the patient’s medical condition and response to vaccine. A patient’s clinical team is best positioned to determine the degree of immune compromise and appropriate timing of vaccination.
  • People who develop myocarditis or pericarditis after a dose of an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine should delay receiving a subsequent dose. People who choose to receive a subsequent dose should wait until myocarditis has completely resolved.
  • People who have a history of myocarditis or pericarditis unrelated to mRNA COVID-19 vaccination may receive any currently FDA-approved or FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccine after the episode of myocarditis or pericarditis has completely resolved. This includes resolution of symptoms attributed to myocarditis or pericarditis, as well as no evidence of ongoing heart inflammation or sequelae as determined by the person’s clinical team, which may include a cardiologist, and special testing to assess cardiac recovery.

The Task Force emphasized that this is not an exhaustive list. If you have an employee who is medically indicated to not receive a vaccine for one of these reasons, they are entitled to a medical accommodation, but must become fully vaccinated “promptly after clinical considerations no longer recommend delay.” As with any medical (or religious) exemption, if your employee works at a federal workplace, you should inform your contracting officer so that she may determine if the employee can proceed at the federal workplace with an accommodation. Regardless, the employee will have to comply with masking and social distancing requirements until she is fully vaccinated.

Clarification of Covered Contractor Workplace

The Task Force also clarified that federal workplaces are also covered contractor workplaces if covered contractor employees work there. Covered contractor employees at federal workplaces will also need to comply with the particular agency’s workplace safety requirements.

[View source.]

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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