Arbitration panel says Feb. 11 is deadline for Philly police on vaccine mandate

Philadelphia police outside the federal courthouse. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

Philadelphia police outside the federal courthouse. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

An arbitration panel has decided that Philadelphia police, like other municipal employees, must be vaccinated or request exemptions by Feb. 11, the city announced Tuesday afternoon. The matter between the city and the Fraternal Order of Police was referred to arbitration after the city announced its vaccine mandate last year.

The arbitration panel’s award says all city employees have until one week from this coming Friday to get at least one shot of the vaccine or request exemptions. After Feb. 11, employees who refuse the vaccine on any grounds will have to double-mask or wear approved N95 masks and be tested for the coronavirus regularly.

Philadelphia officials established the vaccine mandate for city workers including police in November, but the deadline for complying has been repeatedly pushed back as the FOP and the city negotiated.

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As of last month, about 80% of the city’s workforce, or about 22,000 people, were fully vaccinated. That vaccination rate tracks with the city average.

Exempt employees who are not covered by unions are 99% fully vaccinated.

What remains unclear are the consequences for skipping the shot altogether indefinitely and without an exemption.

The arbitration panel will reconvene in March to figure out what happens to officers who don’t get the shots or exemptions.

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