COVID vaccine or test mandate takes effect in Pa. health care & high-risk congregate facilities

Pennsylvania News

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Pennsylvania’s mask mandate for schools is not the only mandate taking effect Tuesday morning. Employees of state institutions like state hospitals and veterans’ homes must be fully vaccinated or show proof of a negative COVID test.

Governor Wolf announced the vaccine or test initiative last month with the hopes of getting more people vaccinated. Now, Commonwealth employees in state health care facilities and high-risk congregate care facilities are required to be fully vaccinated.

If an employee chooses not to get vaccinated, they will be required to undergo weekly COVID-19 testing.

On Tuesday, parents took to the Bradford County Courthouse steps, protesting the new mandate and saying they should have the right to choose.

“This isn’t just a medical issue as it goes beyond that. This is life for us. We should not be told what to do by someone else. This is our choice as a parent to choose what we do for our children,” Danielle Marr told 18 News.

Also taking effect on Tuesday, all new hires in these facilities must be vaccinated before employment.

The initiative will affect approximately 25,000 employees working in these facilities, including state hospitals, state homes for people with intellectual disabilities, veterans homes, community health centers and state corrections institutions.

But not everyone was happy with the initiative. The Pennsylvania State Corrections Officers Association said it asked the Department of Health in January to prioritize corrections employees for vaccinations, but wasn’t given the option until late March.

The association went on to call the mandate a “slap in the face,” and “way too late” citing the thousands of members who already contracted the virus, due to the inaction.

To read the full letter to Governor Wolf, click here.

Starting October 1, all vaccinated state employees under the governor’s jurisdiction can get a day off if fully vaccinated.

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