Acting Health Commissioner Cheryl Bettigole announced Wednesday that Philadelphia is extending its deadline for health care workers, higher education students and employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, instead of being fully vaccinated by the end of next week, staff of hospitals and long-term care facilities, along with higher education students, faculty, and staff now must receive at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by Oct. 15 and a second dose a month later.
“My goal is to get everyone vaccinated and not leave our health care and higher education systems shorthanded,” Bettigole said.
Bettigole announced an even longer extension of the deadline for all other health care workers, including those who work as home health aides and in behavioral health settings. They now must receive at least one dose of the vaccine by Oct. 22 and a second dose by Nov. 22.
More time might be helpful
The initial deadline announced by the city for health care and higher education workers was October 15. However, Bettigole said that many employers were requesting additional time for their staff to get the vaccine.
“We’ve heard in general that a little bit more time might be helpful,” she said. “But I think the greatest concern has been expressed by the home health are agencies and behavioral health.”
Bettigole said that nursing homes in the city have also expressed concern about meeting the deadline, but she said the city did not grant them the longer extension because nursing homes are a high-risk setting.
On Friday, only 19.6% of Pennsylvania nursing homes met the commonwealth’s goal of at least an 80% staff vaccination rate.
Bettigole said Wednesday that she does not intend to extend the deadline the city’s deadline second time.“We’ve seen from other places that have implemented vaccine mandates that they work, that workers do step up and get their vaccines despite lots of anxiety before the deadlines,” she said.