As Biden Moves to Vaccinate Federal Workers, Troops Get a Pass

New vaccine rules for federal workers will cover civilians in the military, but not the active-duty troops who work with them.

By Jennifer Steinhauer

WASHINGTON — In a civilian-controlled military, the rules are often different for those in uniform. Now, those differences extend to vaccinations.

On Thursday, President Biden announced that all federal employees and on-site contractors must be vaccinated against the coronavirus, or be required to submit to regular testing and other measures.

The new requirement would extend to the 766,372 civilians working for the Defense Department, but not to 1.3 million active-duty service members, even though many troops and civilians work side by side.

Mr. Biden said he was directing the department to “look into how and when they will add Covid-19 to the list of vaccinations our armed forces must get,” the first time he has suggested a potential mandate for active-duty troops. But he stopped well short of saying he would use his powers as commander in chief to compel service members to get vaccines not yet fully approved by the Food and Drug Administration by issuing a waiver.

The military sits firmly at the center of an escalating debate over vaccine mandates as Mr. Biden and other officials struggle to get ahead of the Delta variant sweeping through the nation.

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