Fact Check: Some Federal Agencies, Health Organizations Do NOT Require Employees To Be Vaccinated Against COVID-19

Fact Check

  • by: Christiana Dillard
Fact Check: Some Federal Agencies, Health Organizations Do NOT Require Employees To Be Vaccinated Against COVID-19 Still Rules

Do seven well-known agencies and pharmaceutical companies listed in a social media post not require their employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19? Partially, that claim is true: but the list lacks context. The agencies and organizations listed all have COVID prevention protocols in place, and some are requiring vaccinations for their employees currently or will in the near future. The meme is not, as it claims, as accurate as Steph Curry's 90.7% career average from the free throw line.

The claim appeared in a Facebook post (archived here) published on August 20, 2021. It featured a graphic with text that read:

List of employers NOT requiring their employees to get vaccinated:

  1. The White House
  2. The CDC
  3. The FDA
  4. The WHO
  5. Moderna
  6. Pfizer
  7. Johnson & Johnson

Wake up.

The caption of the post read:

Someone fact check me. This look accurate as a Steph Curry free throw. Just like how Steve Jobs didn't let his kids use iPhones....

This is how the post looked on Facebook on August 25, 2021:

(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Wed Aug 25 20:24:35 2021 UTC)

Lead Stories checked whether any of the agencies and organizations require vaccinations for their employees. Here is what we found:

White House: No, but there are other measures in place for those who choose not to be vaccinated. On July 29, 2021, the Biden administration issued the "Safer Federal Workforce Task Force COVID-19 Workplace Safety: Agency Model Safety Principles" (archived here). The mandate, which was in effect at the time of writing, read in part:

Fully vaccinated Federal employees and onsite contractors do not need to physically distance or participate in weekly screening testing, and are not subject to any Government-wide restrictions on official travel (although agency travel policies still apply). In areas of high or substantial transmission, they need to wear a mask in public indoor settings in Federal buildings. In areas of low or moderate transmission, they do not need to wear a mask.

Those Federal employees and onsite contractors who are not fully vaccinated or decline to provide their vaccination status must wear a mask, physically distance, and comply with a weekly or twice-weekly screening testing requirement, and are subject to Government-wide restrictions on official travel.

During a press conference held on July 23, 2021, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that there was no COVID-19 vaccination mandate in place for White House staff, who are considered federal employees. However, that was before the release of the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force mandate. Lead Stories reached out to the White House Press Office on August 25, 2021, to verify whether all White House employees are subject to the mandate, and a spokesperson referred us to the mandate.

CDC & FDA: No, but there are other measures in place for those who choose not to be vaccinated.

Lead Stories reached out to the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), which oversees the CDC and the FDA, about those agencies' COVID-19 vaccination policies. In a response email sent on August 25, 2021, an HHS spokesperson directed us to a frequently asked questions web page from the Safer Federal Workplace website . In response to the question: "Are agencies required to establish different safety protocols for fully vaccinated and not fully vaccinated individuals?" the answer in the resource mirrored the text from the safety principles mandate cited by the White House above.

WHO: No, but it is encouraged. In an email to Lead Stories on August 26, 2021, a WHO spokesperson said:

In line with UN Medical Directors consensus opinion, COVID -19 vaccination is strongly encouraged but is currently not mandatory for personnel.

Moderna: Yes, as of October 1, 2021. On August 20, 2021, Moderna announced that it will require COVID-19 vaccination for its U.S. employees effective October 1, with religious or medical exemptions to be considered on an individual basis.

Pfizer: Yes. In an email to Lead Stories on August 25, 2021, a spokesperson for Pfizer provided the following statement:

Pfizer is requiring all U.S. colleagues and contractors to become vaccinated as a condition of work or participate in regular weekly COVID-19 testing. This is to best protect the health and safety of our colleagues and the communities we serve. Outside the U.S., the company is strongly encouraging all colleagues who are able to do so in their countries get vaccinated. Colleagues who have medical conditions or religious objections will be able to seek accommodations. Colleagues are still required to adhere to all COVID-19 state, local and Pfizer safety procedures while engaged in Pfizer work.

Johnson & Johnson: Yes, as of October 4, 2021. In an email to Lead Stories on August 25, 2021, a spokesperson from Johnson & Johnson said in a statement:

On August 16th, the Company announced that effective October 4th, all employees and contractors of Johnson & Johnson in the United States will be required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Individuals who have medical conditions or other reasons not to be vaccinated will be able to seek accommodations.

Curry's free throw accuracy as of August 26, 2021 was 90.7 percent, while the meme's accuracy was 4 of 7, or 57 percent, well below the NBA average.

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Lead Stories is working with the CoronaVirusFacts/DatosCoronaVirus Alliance, a coalition of more than 100 fact-checkers who are fighting misinformation related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about the alliance here.


  Christiana Dillard

Christiana Dillard is a former news writer for Temple University’s Lew Klein College of Media and Communication. She received her undergraduate degree in English Writing from the University of Pittsburgh. She has been a freelance writer for several organizations including the Pittsburgh Black Media Federation, Pitt Magazine, and The Heinz Endowments. When she’s not producing or studying media she’s binging it, watching YouTube videos or any interesting series she can find on streaming services.

Read more about or contact Christiana Dillard

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