Biden signed the order on Thursday, hours before he was due to give a speech laying out a “six-pronged” strategy to curb the spread of the coronavirus, the Associated Press reported, citing an anonymous source.
The order requires all federal workers and contractors doing business with the government to be vaccinated, with no option to undergo regular testing instead. It represents a toughening of earlier rules rolled out by Biden this summer, which required federal employees to be vaccinated or submit to weekly testing for the disease.
It is unclear whether exemptions will be made for workers objecting on medical or religious grounds, and indoor mask mandates in federal buildings will likely remain in place, given the fact that “the rapidly-spreading Delta variant of COVID-19 can spread among the vaccinated and unvaccinated alike”.
The mandate will apply to some 2.5 million employees of the federal government.
It comes several weeks after the Pentagon ordered all active-duty military members to be vaccinated with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, following its approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
More than 1.3 million troops are on active duty, according to the Pentagon, and less than half have voluntarily gotten vaccinated.
President Biden is expected to announce the new mandatory jab order at a press conference later on Thursday. He is also expected to outline other policies aimed at curbing the spread of Covid-19, including expanded free testing, and will likely address the possibility of booster shots for people who are already fully vaccinated.