In the United States, COVID-19 vaccines are now available for people aged 5 and above so the White House has issued new vaccination mandates for employers and health care facilities, according to BioSpace.

The new vaccine mandates are issued for employers with over 100 employees and health care workers at facilities that receive Medicare and Medicaid Benefits.

So far, more than 70% of Americans have been fully vaccinated with either Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccine or Johnson & Johnson.

In the last few weeks, federal agencies have been busy approving boosters and authorizing vaccines for pediatric patients.

Under the new White House plan, vaccinations will be required by January 4.

The Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced Wednesday the requirement for employers who have 100 or more employees to mandate vaccinations or weekly tests for COVID-19 infections, per BioSpace.

President Joe Biden said vaccination is the “single best pathway” out of the pandemic.

He said, “For our country, the choice is simple: get more people vaccinated, or prolong this pandemic and its impact on our country.”

“The virus will not go away by itself, or because we wish it away: we have to act,” he added. “And while I would have much preferred that requirements not become necessary, too many people remain unvaccinated for us to get out of this pandemic for good.”

Biden said vaccination requirements are positive for the U.S. economy, adding that increased inoculation will allow more people to return to work. He said vaccines “make our economy more resilient in the face of COVID and keep our businesses open.”

The White House said those who fail to comply with the vaccine mandates will face financial penalties, which could run into the tens of thousands of dollars. And people in health care facilities who fail to follow the vaccine mandates may potentially lose federal funding.

However, there has been a significant amount of support and criticism aimed at the latest mandate.

A recent BioSpace survey of employees within the pharmaceutical industry has revealed that there are many questions considered unanswered about vaccine mandates. Some are concerned about natural immunity following an infection from COVID-19, while some have questions about potential exemptions from vaccination due to medical status or religious beliefs.

Meanwhile, most pharma companies, including Pfizer, Novartis, Gilead Sciences, and Genentech, have already implemented stringent vaccination requirements for employees.

The story was first published on BioSpace.