Not Real News

On Friday, The Associated Press reported on stories circulating online incorrectly claiming FEMA workers aren’t subject to a vaccine mandate, and also falsely asserting that they’re being used to replace health care personnel who refuse to comply with such mandates. 

CLAIM: Workers with the Federal Emergency Management Agency are not required to be vaccinated against COVID-19, but are being used to replace health care personnel who are refusing to comply with vaccination mandates.

THE FACTS: The claims are spreading across social media platforms, gaining thousands of likes and shares, but both assertions are false. FEMA workers are considered federal employees and are required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Nov. 8 under an executive order issued by President Joe Biden. Also, the agency is not sending its workers to replace unvaccinated health care personnel. “FEMA employees are required to be vaccinated as determined by the president,” FEMA's director of public affairs, Jaclyn Rothenberg, told the AP, adding: “The social media posts that claim FEMA workers are replacing unvaccinated health care workers are unequivocally false.” FEMA coordinates within the federal government to prepare for and respond to disasters. While the agency has supported states and health care systems throughout the pandemic, it has mainly done so by providing resources and coordination assistance, such as setting up mobile vaccination units and reimbursing states for some inoculation efforts, Rothenberg said. In other cases, the agency has coordinated with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response to distribute supplies such as ventilators and antibody treatments, and has worked with other federal agencies that deploy medical staff requested by states, according to Rothenberg. “In partnership with Health and Human Services, Veterans Affairs, and Department of Defense, we have deployed medical staff at the request of the state to alleviate some of the stress caused by COVID on the state’s health care system,” Rothenberg wrote in an email. “These deployed medical staff abide by the vaccination and other preventive measures requirements established by the receiving facility.” Some states have raised the possibility of addressing potential staffing shortages by calling in medically trained National Guard members. The Guard is also mandated to receive the vaccine under a Pentagon order.

— Associated Press writer Sophia Tulp in Atlanta contributed this report.