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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

State governments, private businesses and even part of the federal government are suddenly embracing mandatory coronavirus vaccinations for their employees.

Why it matters: Vaccine mandates have been relatively uncommon in the U.S. But with vaccination rates stagnating and the Delta variant driving yet another wave of cases, there's been a new groundswell of support for such requirements.

Driving the news: Monday was a turning point.

  • The VA became the first federal agency to require its employees to be vaccinated.
  • More than 50 medical groups — including the American Medical Association and the American Nurses Association — called for mandatory vaccinations of all health care workers, WaPo first reported.
  • California announced that state employees and health care workers must show proof of vaccination or get tested regularly.
  • New York City brought all municipal workers — including teachers and police officers — under a vaccine requirement that had previously only applied to health workers.
  • Even the SF Bar Owner Alliance hopped onboard, announcing that the 500 San Francisco bars it represents will require indoor customers to show proof of vaccination or a negative test.

The big picture: Vaccine requirements are also gaining steam internationally.

  • French President Emmanuel Macron earlier this month required health workers to get vaccinated. Members of the public must also have a vaccinate or a negative test to enter most indoor venues.
  • Although the measure has sparked protests, it's also encouraged millions of people to get vaccinated, per the NYT.
  • Italy has followed France's lead.

Yes, but: Many Republican-led states have preemptively prohibited vaccine requirements, at least in some settings.

  • White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki declined to say whether President Biden supports restrictions on unvaccinated people, per CNN's Kaitlan Collins.

What they're saying: "Talk about hitting a tipping point," tweeted Bob Wachter, chair of the UCSF Department of Medicine.

  • "As each organization and industry finds the courage to mandate or strongly incentivize vaccination, it makes it that much easier for the next one to do so. Until all the pressure is on leaders who have NOT done it."

The bottom line: Vaccine mandates have been unpopular in part because they'll inevitably create a backlash.

  • But the vaccination effort seems to have run out of carrots to incentivize more people to get a shot, and with rates remaining as low as they are in light of a worsening domestic situation, resorting to sticks has clearly become a more attractive option.

Go deeper: Nursing homes have startlingly low COVID vaccination rates

Go deeper

Oct 17, 2021 - Health

Fauci: J&J recipients will likely be able to mix and match boosters

Anthony Fauci. Photo: Stefani Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will likely allow recipients of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 to mix and match vaccine boosters depending on their individual health, NIAID director Anthony Fauci told ABC News' '"This Week" on Sunday.

Why it matters: The FDA's vaccine expert panel on Friday unanimously endorsed booster shots for adult recipients of the J&J vaccine. The panel is also exploring the mix and match strategy but hasn't yet taken a formal vote on the matter.

Oct 16, 2021 - Health

Pope Francis calls on companies to release COVID vaccine patents

Pope Francis. Photo: Massimo Valicchia/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Pope Francis called on pharmaceutical companies on Saturday to release patents to make COVID-19 vaccines more accessible to the poor, Reuters reports.

Why it matters: There is a stark divide between countries that have access to COVID-19 shots and those that don't, and the gap has widened as some wealthier countries have begun distributing third doses.

Oct 17, 2021 - Health

Education secretary reveals limits to Biden’s mask push on states

U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, in an "Axios on HBO" interview, said he's reluctant to withhold federal funding from states that won't enforce school mask mandates because he doesn't want to hurt students.

Why it matters: Cardona's comments suggest there are limits to how far the Biden administration will go in pressuring states to adopt universal masking — or vaccine mandates.