Critics accused the president of exceeding his legal authority, a notion that Murthy rejected.
“These are focused on areas where the federal government has legal authority to act,” he said, adding: “We know these kind of requirements actually work to improve our vaccination rates.“
Murthy also said he believed the administration’s new policy would withstand legal challenges. “Certainly this wouldn’t have been put forward if the president and the administration didn’t believe that it was an appropriate legal measure to take,” he said.
Speaking on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Murthy also challenged the notion that Biden’s new policies reflect a flip-flop from the idea that vaccination should not be mandated. The surgeon general said it was merely a case of responding to a situation that had been changed by the emergence of the Delta variant.
“Over the last several months we’ve been working hard to get vaccines out to the public, partnering with the private sector, using every power the government has. Now in the face of Delta, we’ve got to move to the next phase of that response,” he said.
When asked by ABC host George Stephanopoulos about possible defiance of the administration‘s new requirements, Murthy said it was important not to lose sight of our shared goals as a country.
“What we cannot allow is for this pandemic to turn us on each other,” he said. “Our enemy is the virus; it is not one another.“