List of employers that supposedly do not mandate Covid-19 shots is mostly false

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A graphic published on Facebook in South Africa claims that Covid-19 vaccine mandates do not apply to staff at various federal US agencies, pharmaceutical companies and the World Health Organization (WHO). This is partly false; six of the seven entities listed in the graphic have made it mandatory for employees to get vaccinated against Covid-19. Only the WHO has abstained.

The post, which has been shared more than 13,000 times since it was posted on Facebook on September 2, 2021, includes a graphic that reads: “List of employers NOT requiring their employees to get vaccinated.”

Screenshot of the misleading Facebook post, taken on September 13, 2021

It goes on to name the White House, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the World Health Organization (WHO), and vaccine manufacturers Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson.

The post’s caption, translated from Afrikaans, reads: “Interesting, especially in light of the fact that certain SA companies already want to make the jab compulsory, even before it is law ...?”

South Africa, like many other countries, is grappling with the question of vaccine mandates, especially in the workplace. In June 2021, the country’s employment and labour ministry issued a directive for employers to follow when considering making vaccines compulsory for staff.

Since then, South Africa’s largest medical-scheme administrator Discovery Health and private schools operator CURRO have announced that they would require all their staff to be vaccinated by the beginning of 2022.

But the claim is misleading; in the list on Facebook, only the WHO has opted not to impose a Covid-19 vaccine mandate on its employees.

Jab compulsory for US officials

The only organisation listed in the post that doesn't have a current or planned vaccine mandate for its employees is the WHO. 

“In line with UN Medical Directors consensus opinion, Covid -19 vaccination is strongly encouraged but is currently not mandatory for personnel,” said the WHO in an email to AFP Fact Check.

A policy brief shared on the WHO’s website in April 2021 said that it did not oppose or endorse mandatory employee vaccination, but nevertheless provided guidelines for governments and organisations considering the step.

The White House announced on July 29, 2021, that all US federal employees and contractors would be required to “attest to their vaccination status”.

This meant unvaccinated employees would need to observe strict Covid-19 protocols such as wearing masks, social distancing, and taking weekly and bi-weekly tests to confirm they were Covid-negative.

However, on September 9, 2021, US president Joe Biden signed an executive order requiring all US federal employees and contractors to be vaccinated.  

Vaccine makers issue mandates

Pfizer/BioNTech mandated the vaccine on August 4, 2021, and spokeswoman Pamela Eisele told AFP Fact Check that the company took the initiative in order “to protect the health and safety of our staff and the communities we serve”.

Employees with medical conditions or religious objections can ask to be excluded.

Moderna announced that vaccines will be mandatory for all employees by October 1, 2021, adding that “requests for medical or religious exemptions will be considered on an individual basis”.

Johnson & Johnson also announced that all its employees must be vaccinated by October 4, 2021, also with limited exceptions.