October 07, 2021
Philadelphia is providing colleges and health care systems with more time to be in compliance with the city's COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
The deadline for all college students and staff, as well as health care employees, to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 has been pushed back in order to accommodate institutions that wish to continue operating at full capacity as workers complete their vaccination courses, the Philadelphia Department of Health said Wednesday.
Health care workers in hospitals and long-term care facilities, as well as college students and staff, must receive at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose by Oct. 15 rather than be fully vaccinated.
Those who receive only one dose by Oct. 15 will need to submit to regular COVID-19 testing until they are fully vaccinated. Anyone who received a first dose of Pfizer or Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine will need to have gotten their second shot by Nov. 15.
All other health care staff must receive at least one vaccine dose by Oct. 22 and undergo COVID-19 testing once or twice per week until they are fully vaccinated. These health care workers will need to receive their second COVID-19 vaccine dose, if necessary, by Nov. 22.
Those who do not have approved medical or religious exemptions and fail to meet the amended deadlines would be considered out of compliance and prohibited from working and studying in collegiate and health care settings.
The decision to push back its COVID-19 vaccine mandate for colleges and health care systems came after the city's health department received concerns from some groups about not being able to meet the Oct. 15 deadline.
"My goal is to get everyone vaccinated and not leave our health care and higher education systems shorthanded, especially when we know folks are making an effort to get vaccinated," Acting Health Commissioner Dr. Cheryl Bettigole said. "My hope is that this additional time will help to get all of these workers over the last hurdles to accept a vaccination."
Philly implemented its COVID-19 vaccine mandate for colleges and health care systems in August as the highly-contagious delta variant spread across the city. The city said that exemptions would only be granted to students and employees for medical or religious reasons.
A number of colleges and universities, such as the Community College of Philadelphia, the University of Pennsylvania, Drexel University and Thomas Jefferson University, already required all students, faculty and staff to be fully vaccinated for the fall semester.
The city continues to experience high levels of COVID-19 transmission, according to the CDC. Philly is averaging 242 new COVID-19 infections per day over the last two weeks, city health officials said Monday. More than 200 people are hospitalized in the city right now due to COVID-19.
More than 85% of adults in Philadelphia have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, while 70% of residents 18 and over are fully vaccinated, according to the city's health department.