The Biden Administration is delaying enforcement of its self-imposed deadline requiring government employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19 by Nov. 22.
An Office of Management and Budget (OMB) spokesperson said Monday the deadline was "not a cliff," according to NBC News. Workers who do not comply with the vaccine mandate will still be fired or suspended, albeit at a later than planned date.
"Our goal is to protect workers, not penalize anyone," OMB stated.
The White House said more than 96% the country's 3.5 million federal employees are vaccinated, and workers may apply for a religious or medical exemption.
The OMB is encouraging federal agencies to have an "education and counseling period" through December before taking further action against the unvaccinated in January.
"This change undermines the government's need for urgency, especially in light of the new Omicron variant," South Texas College of Law professor Josh Blackman, a constitutional expert, told Just the News. "If this issue was serious, the administration could have asked the Supreme Court for expedited relief."
"Most suspensions and removals" are being delayed until January 2022, according to the spokesperson.
Vaccine deadlines were delayed for federal contractors earlier this month, with the date being pushed from December 8, 2021, to January 4, 2022.
The White House is also encouraging vaccinations for private citizens. Friday, President Joe Biden pointed to the newest COVID variant, Omicron, as one reason "why this pandemic will not end until we have global vaccinations," and he encouraged parents to get their children ages 5-11 inoculated.