Temple mandates COVID-19 vaccines for students, faculty

The university’s mandate comes as Philadelphia announced its requirement for all higher education students, faculty and health care workers to be vaccinated by Oct. 15.

Temple University is mandating the COVID-19 vaccine for all students, faculty and staff after Philadelphia announced today that all higher-education students, faculty and health care workers must be vaccinated by Oct. 15. ALLIE IPPOLITO / FILE

Temple University is now requiring all students, faculty, staff and contractors to be vaccinated against COVID-19 after the City of Philadelphia announced all health care workers, faculty and students of local colleges and universities must be vaccinated by Oct. 15, except in cases of religious or medical exemption.

“Public health experts have made it clear that widespread vaccination is our best defense in the fight to mitigate the virus, and to restore the joy and value of gathering with families, friends, and colleagues,” wrote President Jason Wingard in a statement to The Temple News. “It is also the responsible action to protect the health and welfare of our communities. I applaud the City’s emergency regulation, and Temple University stands ready to support its implementation.”

Those exempt from Philadelphia’s vaccination mandate will be required to social distance, double mask while indoors and receive rapid antigen COVID-19 tests twice a week or a PCR test once a week. If an institution reaches a 90 percent vaccination rate, unvaccinated individuals are allowed to forego the routine testing, WHYY reported.

Temple is one of the last local schools to implement a vaccine mandate, previously only requiring students, faculty and staff to wear masks when indoors and in enclosed public spaces, The Temple News reported. Drexel University, the University of Pennsylvania and Thomas Jefferson University first required vaccines in April, Villanova University required vaccines in June and the Community College of Philadelphia required vaccines in August. 

“Since vaccines became readily available, our position has been that everyone who can get vaccinated, should get vaccinated,” wrote Stephen Orbanek, a spokesperson for the university, in a statement to The Temple News. “This decision from the Board of Health shows that they share that view. The science behind the vaccines is sound, and it’s the absolute best way to keep the entire Temple community — students, faculty, staff and our North Philadelphia neighbors — healthy and safe.”

Temple only considers students fully vaccinated if they have uploaded their vaccination card to the student health portal, The Temple News reported. If a student has not uploaded their vaccine card to the portal, they will be subjected to “enhanced” weekly testing, The Temple News reported

As of Aug. 13, more than 859,000 Philadelphians have been fully vaccinated, according to the city’s vaccine dashboard

People are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine or Moderna vaccine, or two weeks after receiving the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. 

On Thursday, Philadelphia businesses began requiring all staff and customers to wear masks indoors, regardless of their vaccination status. Philadelphians are also required to wear masks when attending outdoor events with more than 1,000 attendees, The Temple News reported.

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