The District of Columbia Mandates Vaccines for D.C. Employees, Interns, Contractors, and Grantees

On August 10, 2021, District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser issued Mayor’s Order 2021-099 requiring all D.C. employees and interns to certify that they have been vaccinated by September 19, 2021.  The Order further mandates that all D.C. contractors and grantees ensure that their “employees, agents, and subcontractors” are vaccinated.1

As a D.C. contractor or grantee, do employees and subcontractors need to be vaccinated even if they do not perform work in D.C. and do not perform work under any D.C. contract or grant?

No. The Order specifies that contractors and grantees ensure that those persons under their control are vaccinated if such persons “provide goods or perform services in person in [D.C.] facilities or worksites, or [if they] have in-person contact with other persons in order to complete their work under the contract or grant[.]” Therefore, if a contractor, for example, has an employee who only performs work for the contractor in the Commonwealth of Virginia and does not perform any work for a D.C. contract, that employee is not subject to this Order.

Are there any exemptions?

Yes, there are exemptions under Mayor Bowser’s Order. Employees, interns, as well as contractors’ and grantees’ employees, agents, and subcontractors will not be required to be vaccinated if: (1) they have a good-faith objection that the vaccination would violate their sincerely held religious beliefs; (2) they have obtained and submitted a certification from a licensed health professional that the vaccination is medically inadvisable due to their medical condition; or (3) they agree to be tested weekly for COVID-19.

The Order also states that even if an exemption is granted, those individuals will nevertheless be required to wear a mask in the workplace, be tested weekly for COVID-19, and provide a negative COVID-19 test result weekly in order to report to work.

Is there a deadline by which contractors and grantees must certify that their employees, agents, and subcontractors are vaccinated?

The Order does not specify a particular date by which D.C. contractors and grantees must provide certification or proof of vaccination for their employees, agents, and subcontractors. However, the Order directs the city administrator to establish a vaccination certification procedure.2  Accordingly, it is likely that additional information with potential deadlines may be issued shortly. 

Separately, the Order empowers D.C.’s Office of Contracting and Procurement (OCP) and all D.C. grant-making agencies with the ability to issue change orders and implement amendments to current grant agreements and grant award notifications consistent with the vaccination certification requirement.

Will additional certification be required if it is subsequently determined that a booster shot is necessary for individuals who are already fully vaccinated?

The Order does leave room for the city administrator to modify vaccination certification requirements for all persons and entities covered under the Order if booster shots are recommended for those who are fully vaccinated.

Has D.C. recently issued any other orders relating to COVID-19?

The mayor’s August 10th Order comes directly on the heels of Mayor Bowser’s July 29, 2021 Order mandating the wearing of masks in all public indoor settings, including in any business establishment that is open to the public and when on public transportation. D.C. subsequently issued its guidance outlining mask-wearing rules.

See Footnotes

1 Notably, the Order does not specifically define “intern,” “contractor,” or “grantee.” While it may be fairly easy to discern from the Order that a “contractor” is a person or entity that will be subject to D.C. Office of Contracting and Procurement, the term “grantee” is far more ambiguous.  However, based on the mayor’s August 10, 2021 Situational Briefing, it is likely that D.C. will take the broad position that the Order covers any person or entity that is a current or future recipient of a grant from any D.C. government agency, department, or program of a D.C. agency or department. Likewise, “intern” is equally ambiguous, but it is likely that this will include any individual who is performing work, paid or unpaid, as part of a work experience program or defined internship program with any D.C. agency or department.  

2 The Order also delegates authority to the city administrator to (1) send out notice of the mayor’s vaccine mandate to employees, interns, contractors, and grantees; (2) develop a form for vaccination certification as well as attesting to being granted a vaccination exemption; (3) develop systems for granting permanent or temporary exemptions.  

Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.