Nearly 10% of Montana VA employees seek exemption from COVID mandate

Phil Drake

Nearly 10% of Montana VA Health Care System’s 1,400 employees have applied for an exemption from a federal directive now pending in the courts that would require them to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, Montana VA officials said recently.

These accommodations from President Joe Biden’s executive order regarding federal employees can be for medical or religious reasons. All Montana VA employees are considered health care personnel.

Montana VA would not say how many exemptions have been granted or denied.

In June, a federal appeals court said it would reconsider its own April ruling that allowed the administration to require federal employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

The mandate is on hold until at least mid-September, when the full court rehears the case. The Biden administration has not enforced the requirement since January when a district judge in Texas first paused the policy with a nationwide injunction.

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The VA did not respond to queries as to whether exemptions were being denied or granted.

According to the mandate, the agency is to offer employees the option of the agency searching for a possible reassignment position for the employee. If

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