Philadelphia COVID-19 vaccine mandate gets results in nursing homes
Philadelphia officials say all but one nursing home complied with its vaccine mandate for health-care workers.
All but one of Philadelphia’s 47 nursing homes have satisfied the city mandate to have all staff vaccinated against COVID-19 unless the workers have approved exemptions, the Philadelphia Department of Public Health said Friday.
The city, however, provided wiggle room. A relatively small number of the city’s 9,300 nursing-home workers remain unvaccinated or have an unknown status, officials said. They can still work, but must be double-masked and tested twice a week, health department spokesperson James Garrow said.
Delaware Valley Veteran’s Home in Northeast Philadelphia, which has 171 beds and is operated by the Pennsylvania Department of Veteran’s Affairs, is the only facility that has not met the mandate, Garrow said.
While the facility at 2701 Southampton Rd. has a high rate of vaccination — 94.8% fully vaccinated and 1.3% partially vaccinated as of Oct. 24, according to state data, it is technically not in compliance because it does not have formal exemptions in place, Garrow said.
“We were told that on-site management is eager to implement this mandate, but because it’s a state VA facility, they’re waiting on sign-off from the state. They have shown us the requests to implement the mandate and we’re confident that they’re working toward that resolution,” Garrow said.
Officials at the state veteran’s affairs department did not immediately provide comment.
The information released Friday came from a survey sent to the 47 nursing homes on Oct. 15. The report shows that 8,460 of 9,313 nursing home workers, or 90.8%, were fully vaccinated. An additional 4.8% have had at least one dose.
When Philadelphia announced its vaccine mandate for health-care workers in nursing homes on Aug. 15, 60.5% of them were fully vaccinated.
The city threatened closure and fines of up to $2,000 per incident. No fines were issued, the city said Friday.
Fewer than 200 workers are listed in the report as “no longer employed.” It does not specify if those workers quit rather than getting the vaccine or were fired.
The report shows that 230 workers received religious exemptions and 56 received medical exemptions. The city requires workers with exemptions to wear two masks and to be tested twice a week.
The status of 66 workers was listed as unknown, while 75 were unvaccinated. Employees in these two categories are not allowed to work in their nursing homes until they show proof of vaccination, the city said.
City nursing homes have a jump start on competitors in the suburbs facing a Jan. 4 federal deadline for staff vaccinations at virtually all facilities that bill Medicare and Medicaid. Religious and medical exemptions are allowed.