U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy said the Biden administration is “prepared to defend” its COVID-19 vaccine rule for companies with 100 or more employees after a federal appeals court temporarily blocked it.
“The president and the administration wouldn’t have put these requirements in place if they didn’t think that they were appropriate and necessary, and the administration is certainly prepared to defend them,” Murthy said in an interview Sunday with ABC News’ “This Week.”
The federal vaccine rule, issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), requires workers to be vaccinated against the coronavirus by Jan. 4 or comply with mask requirements and weekly testing.
“It’s important we take every measure possible to make our workplaces safer,” Murthy said. “It’s good for people’s health, it’s good for the economy, and that’s why these requirements make so much sense.”
Murthy’s comments came one day after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, which is composed of three judges appointed by Republican presidents, said there are “grave statutory and constitutional issues with the mandate,” temporarily blocking the rule from moving forward.
“Let’s step back a moment and look at why these are so important,” Murthy said in response to the opposition. “Throughout our history, we have seen that we have used vaccine requirements to protect the population. Started back with George Washington, in fact, when he required troops to be inoculated for smallpox. In the 1800s, schools started having vaccine requirements.”
Asked whether the vaccine rule could be extended to smaller businesses that employ few than 100 people, Murthy said, “Nothing is off the table at this moment. But the focus right now is on implementing the current rule that OSHA put out.”