Several intelligence agencies had at least 20% of their personnel unvaccinated as of October, the representative said. Chris Stewart, a Republican who is a member of the lower house intelligence committee. Some agencies in the community had as much as 40% of their workforce unvaccinated, Stewart said, citing information provided by the government to the panel but not published. He declined to identify the agencies, because the complete information on vaccination is secret.
While many people will almost certainly be vaccinated before the November 22 deadline for public employees, resistance to the mandate could leave top national security agencies without some staff. Intelligence agents are particularly difficult to replace due to the specialized work they perform and the difficulties in completing reviews and permits.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence declined several requests for figures on the intelligence community. The office also did not say what contingency plans exist in the event agents are fired for failing to comply with the mandate.
National Intelligence Director Avril Haines declined in a hearing last week to reveal the percentage of the workforce that had been vaccinated, but said “we don’t expect it to be a problem for missions.” The intelligence community has an estimated 100,000 employees.
The vaccination rates provided by Stewart are much higher than those of the general population. About 70% of adults in the United States are fully vaccinated and 80% have received at least one dose.
Stewart called on the government to approve more exemptions for people for religious, medical and other reasons and to delay the firing of intelligence agents.
“My question is what is the impact on national security if we do that?” He said. “You are potentially laying off thousands of people on the same day. And it’s not like you can put an ad on Craigslist and they show up on Thursday. “
President Joe Biden has issued several mandates to push vaccinations in the United States, affecting federal employees, contractors and healthcare workers. The White House has said those mandates are raising rates and reducing deaths from a pandemic that has killed more than 750,000 people in the United States and 5 million worldwide.
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