Philadelphia achieves near complete compliance with city employee vaccine mandate

Silhouette of a COVID-19 vaccine being prepared.

A dose of a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is prepared at Lurie Children's hospital, Nov. 5, 2021, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh, File)

The City of Philadelphia’s workforce is nearly 100% compliant with the workforce vaccination mandate for COVID-19.

According to a release, more than 22,000 employees are either fully vaccinated, have received one dose of the vaccine, or have an approved or pending exemption request. Employees exempt will continue to be required to follow additional safety protocols, including routine testing.

Chief Administrative Officer Stephanie Tipton says the amount of compliance is a “significant milestone for the city.”

“Hopefully it can set an example for other organizations and potentially other residents who might be a little leery of getting vaccinated,” Tipton said.

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As of Tuesday, 68 employees remain out of compliance and will be terminated from their positions.

Tipton says there’s no firm date for the terminations, however, an agreement the city signed with its unions could allow for employees to be reinstated within a year.

“We don’t want anyone to have to lose their job over this, but we also know it’s incredibly important for us to keep our employees safe and to keep the public safe,” Tipton said. “Our hope is that over time, maybe employees will have a change of heart and decide to get vaccinated. And, you know, if they do that within a year or want to come back to the city government, you know, there could be an opportunity for them to do that.”

In a release, the city says the terminations will have “no impact on core city services” and departments are working to fill the positions as soon as possible.

Nearly 3,000 exemption requests have been made. Of those, roughly 2,800 were approved and 90 are pending.

In a release, Mayor Jim Kenney says reaching 100 percent compliance is due to the partnership between our “City labor partners” and the “Administration team.”

“I am proud of our city’s workforce who, as public servants, bear a responsibility to mitigate the harm that would result from inadvertent transmission of COVID-19 to our colleagues and the public,” Kenney said. “The safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines remain the best way to protect Philadelphians and save lives in the ongoing struggle to fight this pandemic.”

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In June, the union representing Philadelphia’s firefighters came to an agreement with the city over its COVID-19 vaccine mandate. The settlement was the final hurdle to having all city employees covered by the vaccine mandate.

Broke in PhillyWHYY is one of over 20 news organizations producing Broke in Philly, a collaborative reporting project on solutions to poverty and the city’s push towards economic justice. Follow us at @BrokeInPhilly.

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