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White House announces start date for vaccine mandate in US

The US will begin enforcing mandatory coronavirus vaccination for private-sector workers starting January 4, the White House announced on Wednesday. Those not vaccinated will have to be tested weekly.

“It is important to understand that there are still so many workers who are not protected and remain at risk from being seriously ill or dying from Covid-19,” said a senior administration official in remarks carried by the White House press service.

Failure to comply with the vaccine mandate will incur heavy penalties for businesses, which will face an “approximate” fine of $14,000 per violation. The fines will scale up with multiple violations, senior officials said. It was not immediately clear whether workers could get fired should they refuse vaccination or testing.

The requirement for federal contractors to be vaccinated was pushed back a month and will be enforced from the same date.

“By January 4, 2022, [healthcare] facilities must ensure that all staff have received the necessary shots to be fully vaccinated – either two doses of Pfizer, two doses of Moderna, or one dose of Johnson & Johnson,” the senior official said.

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