Hours after the City of Philadelphia issued new vaccine guidance, Temple University is extending its COVID-19 vaccine mandate deadline for students and employees to Nov. 15, one month after the original Oct. 15 deadline, said Stephen Orbanek, a university spokesperson.
The city’s new guidance gives students and employees at local universities, hospitals and long-term care facilities until Oct. 15 to receive their first shot of a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine and until Nov. 15 to complete their vaccine series, said Acting Philadelphia Health Commissioner Cheryl Bettigole at the city’s COVID-19 briefing on Wednesday.
“We hope they take advantage of the extended compliance timeline,” Orbanek wrote in a statement to The Temple News.
Until they are fully vaccinated, individuals in higher education must be tested for COVID-19 once per week using a polymerase chain reaction test or twice per week with an antigen test, according to a city press release. Health care workers will need to be tested twice per week using either a rapid antigen test or a PCR test until they are fully vaccinated.
The city extended the mandate deadline after receiving reports that many groups, especially behavioral and home health care providers with lower vaccination rates, were worried about meeting the previous Oct. 15 deadline, Bettigole said.
“My goal is to get everyone vaccinated and not leave our health care and higher education systems shorthanded, especially when we know that folks are making an effort to get vaccinated,” Bettigole said.
In August, Temple imposed its own Oct. 15 vaccine mandate for students, faculty and staff to comply with the city’s guidelines, The Temple News reported.
Citywide, university students and employees and hospital and long-term care facility workers who are not fully vaccinated by the Nov. 15 deadline will be prohibited from working or studying in person, Bettigole said.
Temple students who are not in compliance with university vaccine guidelines will lose access to campus buildings and face potential disenrollment, The Temple News reported.
Health care workers who work outside of hospitals or long-term care facilities will have until Oct. 22 to receive their first shot of a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine and until Nov. 22 to complete their vaccine series, Bettigole said.
As of Sept. 30, 86 percent of Temple students and nearly 90 percent of Temple employees are fully vaccinated, according to the university’s vaccine and case dashboard.
More than 938,000 Philadelphians are fully vaccinated, as of Oct. 6, according to the city’s vaccine dashboard.
“We’ve seen from other places that have implemented vaccine mandates that they work,” Bettigole said. “That workers do step up and get their vaccines despite lots of anxiety before the deadlines.”