Vaccine Requirements


AmeriCorps VISTA
Oct. 8, 2021

Vaccine Requirements

Dear sponsors, 

In early September, President Biden announced a six-pronged, comprehensive national strategy that employs the same science-based approach that was used to successfully combat previous variants of COVID-19 earlier this year. The strategy builds on public health officials’ continued recommendations to implement a layered approach to beating COVID-19, including masking, testing, social distancing, and vaccinations. President Biden has signed an executive order that requires all executive branch federal employees to be vaccinated.  

While this executive order requirement does not directly apply to AmeriCorps members, another part of the strategy requires all employers with 100+ employees to ensure their workers are vaccinated or tested weekly, which may impact your organization. We’re writing today with a reminder about anwsers to vaccine FAQs and a few new updates to support sponsors and members in the development and enforcement of sponsor-specific vaccine policies.  

Frequently Asked Questions

Can a grantee, sponsor, or subsite require me to receive a vaccine for COVID-19 to serve onsite? 

AmeriCorps VISTA does not mandate vaccination for our members to serve. However, whether a grantee, sponsor, or subsite may mandate vaccination for members or volunteers to serve on site is a determination for the sponsor to make, consistent with federal, state, and local law. The CDC and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission provide guidance applicable to the COVID-19 vaccination at the links provided below. If a grantee or sponsor does mandate vaccination, there may be medical or religious exemptions. Generally, grantees and sponsors are encouraged to follow state and local law, and CDC and Equal Employment Opportunity guidance around workplace vaccination plans. 

Updated as of March 5, 2021: CDC: Workplace Vaccination Program Updated as of December 16, 2020: Equal Employment Opportunity Commission FAQs: What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws [updated 4/15/21].

May AmeriCorps members in the VISTA program utilize leave benefits for vaccine appointments?  

AmeriCorps members may utilize up to eight hours of administrative leave per each COVID-19 vaccine appointment. This leave time may be applied retroactively, within the current service term. Our agency is using its authority under Section 105(b)(1) of the Domestic Volunteer Service Act to make an exception to its leave policy to allow administrative leave for COVID-19 vaccine appointments. Per standard practice, sponsors should track the use of such leave.  

May these members utilize leave benefits for adverse reactions to the COVID-19 vaccine 

AmeriCorps members may utilize up to three days of emergency sick leave per each COVID-19 vaccine appointment for adverse reactions to the COVID-19 vaccine. This leave time may be applied retroactively, within the current service term. Our agency is using its authority under Section 105(b)(1) of the Domestic Volunteer Service Act to make an exception to its leave policy to allow sick leave for adverse reactions to the COVID-19 vaccine. Per standard practice, sponsors should track the use of such leave. 

What happens when a member does not comply with a sponsors COVID-19 vaccination policy 

Members are expected to comply with the COVID-19 vaccination policy established by their grantee, sponsor, or subsite. If a member does not comply, the sponsor may request their removal from the project by contacting their portfolio manager. The AmeriCorps member will be placed on administrative hold and given an opportunity to seek reassignment.  

What happens if the member is unable to find reassignment?  

If an AmeriCorps member does not secure a suitable reassignment, they will likely be terminated early from the VISTA program. In accordance with 45 CFR §2556.320(i), AmeriCorps will determine whether their early termination is for compelling personal circumstances. Please see the additional questions on member early exits for information on how early termination impacts Segal Education Awards and end of service cash stipends.  


Reminder: Join us for the next sponsor call on Wednesday, Oct. 20, 3-4 p.m. ET.
We will discuss this information, in addition to other updates. 

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Thank you for your continued support of your AmeriCorps members.

Meg Ansara 
Director, AmeriCorps VISTA