Philadelphia Issues New Update to COVID-19 Vaccine Mandates for Healthcare Employees and Students, Faculty and Staff in Institutions of Higher Education

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On October 6, 2021, the Philadelphia Department of Public Health (DPH) announced a series of extensions designed to allow healthcare employers and institutions of higher education to comply with the City’s vaccine mandate (See announcement here). Approximately two months earlier, on August 13, the DPH announced that all healthcare workers and people at colleges and universities in Philadelphia needed to be fully vaccinated against COVID by October 15, 2021 (See the Firm’s alert here)

What You Need to Know:

  • Workers in hospitals and long-term care facilities and higher education personnel will need to receive their first COVID-19 vaccine dose by October 15, 2021. 
  • Other healthcare workers will now need to receive their first COVID-19 vaccine dose by October 22, 2021. 
  • All covered individuals must receive their second dose within 30 days (November 15, or November 22, 2021, as applicable) to remain in compliance with the Philadelphia order. 

​The City has been working with healthcare providers and higher education institutions to get all of their staff, faculty, volunteers and students vaccinated.

The updated timeline provides that as of October 15, 2021, all healthcare staff who work in hospitals and long-term care facilities (such as nursing homes) and all higher education students, faculty and staff in Philadelphia must have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine (previously, all covered individuals were required to be fully vaccinated by October 15). Healthcare workers who do not work in hospitals or long-term care facilities must receive their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by Friday, October 22.

Healthcare staff and affected higher education individuals who are not fully vaccinated (two doses of Pfizer or Moderna or one J&J shot) by October 15 will be required to undergo regular testing until they are fully vaccinated. Healthcare workers will need two tests per week of either antigen (rapid) or PCR testing, while individuals in higher education will need either weekly PCR tests or twice weekly antigen tests. The updated directive does not specify if the employer or the individuals is responsible for the testing costs.

As part of the DPH extension, hospital and long-term care healthcare workers and all higher education personnel will need to be fully vaccinated by November 15, 2021, and all other covered healthcare workers will need to be fully vaccinated the following week, by November 22, 2021.

According to DPH’s October 6 announcement, “Hospital, long-term care facility, and university staff, students, and faculty who don’t have approved exemptions and who don’t have that first dose by October 15th, or if required, their second dose by November 15th would be out of compliance and could not work or study in these settings.” 

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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