Penn, Drexel requiring students to be vaccinated for fall semester

Friday, April 23, 2021
UPenn, Drexel requiring students to be vaccinated for fall semester
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The University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University have announced that students will be required to be vaccinated for COVID-19 for the fall semester.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University have announced that students will be required to be vaccinated for COVID-19 this fall.

"With the safety and effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines now well-established, and with the importance of mass vaccination so central to our commitment to having a safe campus environment, the most significant new element of our plans for the fall is a requirement that all students be vaccinated," said Penn in a statement.

The university said they will allow exceptions for medical and religious reasons. Specific details regarding vaccination expectations for faculty and staff will be provided in the near future.

For those students looking to be vaccinated, Penn said they will hold clinics, however, students will need to quarantine for two weeks after receiving their first dose.

Penn students will also need to be vaccinated for the flu beginning later this fall, officials say.

Students who have missed out on so much are looking forward to a fully-vaccinated campus life come fall.

"I'm a freshman and I didn't get to do things most freshmen do. I'm pretty happy I get to experience that soon," said one student.

"In-person classes would be tons of fun. My Zoom fatigue is really hurting me, just the opportunity to get to meet people in person," said freshman Nandika Komirisetti.

"I think people should have their choice to do what they want to do," Drexel student Dan Ramirez said.

RELATED: Vaccine Trackers for Pennsylvania and New Jersey

Drexel's undergraduate and graduate students in full-time and part-time face-to-face programs will need to be vaccinated, and the university will help provide the vaccine to those who need it.

"Individuals will need to provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19 (or have been granted a medical/religious exemption) in order to reside in Drexel housing, take classes, or engage in any other activities on campus," Drexel University said in a letter to students.

Dr. Marla Gold is directing Drexel's COVID operations and said this is being done for the benefit of their whole campus, but for the Philadelphia region as well.

"We want to return students to a more normal, if not normal college experience. We don't want our young adults to drive infection in our larger community. Drexel is civically engaged and a big part of the City of Philadelphia," said Dr. Gold.

She said she respects those who may dissent.

Last month, Rutgers University announced it would require students to be vaccinated. Other schools in the immediate region have not made the decision to require students to be vaccinated.

"Getting vaccines is a game-changer. It really makes a big difference. It makes it safer for us to be able to address this disease," said Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf on Wednesday.

In order for the state to fully reopen, officials are looking for a certain percentage of Pennsylvanians to be vaccinated.

"Around 65% to 70% of the population getting both doses. Two weeks after that you have herd immunity," said Wolf.

Currently, nearly 44% of eligible Pennsylvanians have at least had the first dose.

CLICK HERE to learn more about the University of Pennsylvania's vaccine requirement.

CLICK HERE to learn more about Drexel University's vaccine requirement.

Vaccines in the Workplace

Labor and employment lawyer Paul Lancaster Adams, shareholder at Ogletree Deakins, said it is legal for employers to require the COVID-19 vaccine for a return to in-person work.

"Employers can mandate that employees take the COVID-19 vaccine before returning to work. They can ask for proof," said Adams.

Some companies are offering monetary incentives to workers. SEPTA is offering its employees $100 to get their vaccinations and has already paid out nearly $278,000.

Trader Joe's will provide its employees with two hours of pay for each vaccine dose and Dollar General is offering its frontline hourly workers four hours pay to get their shot.

A survey from Glassdoor shows that 70% of U.S. employees don't want to return to the office until their fellow workers are required to get a vaccine.

While it is legal to require vaccines in the workplace, federal, state and local protections must be observed.

"There are exceptions however, you have to make exceptions for religious and ADA-related issues," said Adams.

About 17% of Philadelphians are vaccine-hesitant, the highest percentage in the five-county region.

Now, the goal of doctors, public health officials, and even employers is to convince people to get the shot.