The contractors must affirm that their employees are all vaccinated within 45 days of the July 13 decision, the memo says. In addition, any incoming contractors must be fully vaccinated before traveling to the country, the memo says.
“The maintenance of a healthy and safe workplace is of the highest concern and mitigating risk to the workforce is of critical importance,” Michael W. Derrios, the department’s senior procurement executive, writes in the memo.
Tensions over Covid
According to the June 17 embassy notice, “95% of our cases are individuals who are unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated,” and it called for those coming to the embassy to be vaccinated before arrival, noting that “failure to do this puts everyone in the community at risk.”
The surges in Covid-19 cases fueled tensions in Kabul, sources told CNN, with some pointing the blame at unvaccinated contractors. Earlier this summer, the vaccination rate for contractors was not as high as the rate for American diplomats, third country nationals, and locally employed staff, according to a State Department management notice and an official at a major international security provider for the US in Afghanistan.
In a separate letter reviewed by CNN, the Kabul embassy’s charge d’affaires, Ross Wilson, wrote that he consulted with the embassy’s medical providers, the Bureau of Medical Services, and the department’s leadership in order to make the determination requiring contractors to be vaccinated.
The State Department did not respond to a request for comment and did not answer when asked why this decision was being made now, after hundreds of US personnel were infected with Covid-19.