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August 11, 2021

Jefferson Health to fire employees who don't comply with new vaccine mandate

Health care and university workers must get their shots by Oct. 29

Health News COVID-19
Jefferson Health vaccine mandate Thom Carroll/for PhillyVoice

Jefferson Health in Philadelphia will require employees and medical staff who work in clinical environments to get vaccinated against COVID-19. The mandate also applies to Thomas Jefferson University's faculty and staff working on campus.

Jefferson Health is requiring employees who work in clinical environments to show proof that they've been vaccinated against COVID-19 by Oct. 29 or face termination. 

Faculty and staff at Thomas Jefferson University who work in academic environments must do the same, a spokesman confirmed to PhillyVoice. 

The policy comes with Philadelphia and the rest of the United States experiencing a surge in new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. 

"This decision is based on the threat of the delta variant, the strength of the science surrounding the vaccine, the many valued conversations we've had with our employees, and the overwhelming support for requiring vaccination from the CDC, and many major health care organizations, universities and professional societies," Chief Communications Officer John Brand said. 

Similar vaccine mandates for health care workers have been implemented at Penn Medicine and the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

Like those health care systems, Jefferson said it will honor medical and religious vaccination exemptions, but all other employees who do not follow through with the mandate will be terminated. 

According to a survey of employment and labor experts by USA TODAY, workers who do not comply with companies' vaccine mandates are "generally ineligible for unemployment benefits."

"While we have the deepest appreciation and respect for all of our faculty, employees, students and patients, we must maintain a safe environment," Brand said.

On Wednesday, Philadelphia officials said all city workers must be vaccinated or wear double masks when working indoors. Average daily cases in the city have doubled three times in the last month and hospitalizations for COVID-19 have risen to more than 100 for the first time since June. 

Earlier this week, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf said all state employees in health care and high-risk settings must get vaccinated by Sept. 7 or be subjected to regular testing. New Jersey is implementing a similar policy for employees at state-run and some private health care facilities.

With a workforce of 32,000, Jefferson is the second-largest employer in Philly, according to Philadelphia Business Journal. The University of Pennsylvania is the largest. 

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