United States

White House encouraging state, local COVID-19 vaccine mandates

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Principal deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre holds a media briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., July 30, 2021. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein

ABOARD AIR FORCE ONE, Sept 14 (Reuters) - The Biden administration is advocating for state and local leaders to enact COVID-19 vaccine mandates, White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters on Tuesday.

"We're encouraging everyone ... from the private and public sector to take actions to require vaccination," she said, when asked if the White House was encouraging states to enact their own vaccine mandates.

President Joe Biden last week introduced a federal vaccine mandate aimed at employees of big companies and all federal workers and contractors. The mandate faces legal, political and enforcement challenges.

Biden told reporters as he returned to the White House that he had seen "positive support for mandates, by and large," although he conceded that there would always be a small percentage of people how would refuse to get a shot.

Biden said he would meet with major employers on Wednesday at the White House to discuss the mandate issue.

Previous vaccine mandates in the United States have mostly been introduced by state and local governments, and related to public spaces and schools.

"Last week, as you know, we took big and strong actions as part of the tools that we have ... to boost vaccinations from the federal government," Jean-Pierre said.

"We certainly advocate for local leaders to do the same," she said, calling the push to vaccinate Americans against the spread of the coronavirus "a wartime effort."

Reporting by Steve Holland; additional reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Heather Timmons, Peter Cooney and Simon Cameron-Moore

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