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CDC director says Biden 'looking into' federal vaccine mandate — then issues major clarification
Susan Walsh-Pool/Getty Images

CDC director says Biden 'looking into' federal vaccine mandate — then issues major clarification

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was forced to issue a correction late Friday after an interview on Fox News in which she admitted the Biden administration is exploring the possibility of a nationwide vaccine mandate.

What did she say on Fox News?

While speaking with Fox News anchor Bret Baier on "Special Report," Walensky admitted that she and President Joe Biden are "looking into" a federal vaccine mandate.

Baier asked, "Are you for mandating a vaccine on a federal level?"

"That's something that I think the administration is looking into. It's something that I think we are looking to see approval of from the vaccine," Walensky replied. "Overall, I think in general, I am all for more vaccination. But, I have nothing further to say on that except that we are looking into those policies."

Walenksy's eyebrow-raising comments came as the Biden administration aggressively pushes for Americans to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

What was the correction?

After the Fox News interview, Walensky claimed on Twitter that she was not, in fact, referring to a nationwide vaccine mandate for all Americans, but for certain federal workers and private institutions.

"To clarify: There will be no nationwide mandate. I was referring to mandates by private institutions and portions of the federal government. There will be no federal mandate," she claimed.

However, it's not clear how Walensky's comments on Fox News could be interpreted as referring to "private institutions and portions of the federal government." Her comments had, after all, come directly in response to a question about whether the Biden administration will institute a federal vaccine mandate.

To Walensky's point, the Biden administration has not instituted a vaccine requirement for federal employees — yet.

Still, Biden announced new rules for federal workers this week meant to incentivize vaccination.

The Associated Press reported:

Federal workers will be required to sign forms attesting they've been vaccinated against the coronavirus or else comply with new rules on mandatory masking, weekly testing, distancing and more. The strict new guidelines are aimed at increasing sluggish vaccination rates among the huge number of Americans who draw federal paychecks — and to set an example for private employers around the country.

"If in fact you are unvaccinated, you present a problem to yourself, to your family and those with whom you work," Biden said Thursday.

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