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Consumer trade group asks Biden for clarity on vaccination mandate

US President Joe Biden delivers remarks on plans to stop the spread of the Delta variant and boost Covid-19 vaccinations at the State Dinning Room of the White House, in Washington, DC on September 9, 2021.

Brendan Smialowski | AFP | Getty Images

Consumer companies have questions for President Joe Biden about his plan to increase vaccination rates.

On Thursday, Biden outlined a six-pronged plan for raising vaccination rates. His administration will require federal employees to get inoculated, without an option for weekly Covid-19 tests. Biden also said he would ask the Department of Labor to issue a rule that requires employers with more than 100 employees to mandate vaccines or require weekly testing.

New U.S. Covid cases hit a seven-day moving average of 124,622 on Sunday, down about 19% from a week prior, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Still, case rates are hovering near January levels, before Covid vaccines were available to most of the population.

The Consumer Brands Association wrote a letter to Biden on Monday that included a “small sampling” of the questions that its members have asked the organization as they prepare for a vaccine mandate for their workers. The trade group represents consumer packaged goods companies, including industry giants like Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble and General Mills, as well as retailers Amazon, Albertsons and Target.

The trade group’s questions for Biden span a range of concerns: Must an employee be fully vaccinated to work? Will the requirements only apply to vaccines that are fully approved by the Food and Drug Administration? What are the consequences of falsifying one’s vaccination or testing status, and does the responsibility rest with the individual or employer? Will waivers be allowed if essential employees’ absences or attrition cause significant disruption to the CPG supply chain?

“The Consumer Brands Association and our member companies stand ready to partner with you in getting Americans vaccinated,” the group’s CEO Geoff Freeman wrote in the letter. “Strong, consistent collaboration between the private and public sector on implementation will accelerate progress on our shared goal.”

The proposed mandate comes at a difficult time for these employers, who have been seeing sluggish hiring trends. In August, the CPG industry added just 6,000 jobs, well short of its needs to keep up with demand. Many companies have held off of implementing internal vaccine mandates for their workforce to avoid unvaccinated workers’ quitting.

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