The Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA) has become the first housing authority in Pennsylvania to announce a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy for its approximately 1,200 employees. Under the policy, all employees must show proof of vaccination by Oct. 15 unless they have been exempted to accommodate a medical condition or religious belief.
“PHA has done all it can to protect its residents and employees by offering vaccine and never lifting the mask mandate. We have emphasized the importance of getting the shots, yet our employee vaccination numbers remain low,” PHA President and CEO Kelvin A. Jeremiah said in a statement. “Now with COVID cases increasing, we felt compelled to protect our co-workers and the residents we serve, especially our seniors and other vulnerable clients.”
PHA has partnered with Temple University’s School of Public Health to hold vaccination clinics at public housing sites and also offered employees vaccines at PHA’s headquarters building. Temple hosts an ongoing vaccination clinic in PHA’s Vaux Community Building, about two blocks from PHA’s headquarters, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays. All vaccines are available, and no appointments are required. Everyone who has not yet received a shot is welcome—not just PHA employees or residents.
Employees who do not comply with the vaccination policy by the deadline will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination. The requirement applies to PHA job applicants as well and will be a condition of receiving employment.
“I came to this decision, in part, because of the increasing risks posed by the COVID-19 variants, the number of employees that have been vaccinated to date, the need to protect our workforce and the essential services we provide, and equally important, the need to protect our residents as we carry-out our daily responsibilities,” Jeremiah said. “This is a policy I wish we did not have to implement, but we all have a responsibility to protect one another.”