The following is intended as a plain language summary of rules and recommendations for the mitigation of COVID-19 and does not replace the need to follow all applicable federal, state, and local laws and regulations.
This guidance document was last updated May 10, 2023. This update includes changes to masking requirements and excludes higher education settings from the vaccination requirement. Changes are bolded for quick reference (bold headings excluded).
The City of Philadelphia issued an Emergency Regulation Governing the Control and Prevention of COVID-19 Mandating Vaccines for Healthcare Workers and In Higher Education, Healthcare, and Related Settings (“Vaccine Mandate Regulation”), which mandates vaccine for healthcare workers and in higher education, healthcare, and related settings. This mandate became effective on August 16, 2021.
Certain settings and individuals previously required to comply with the Vaccine Mandate Regulation are excluded from the vaccination requirements. These requirements are modified according to recommendations of the Philadelphia Department of Public Health (the Health Department). Institutions of Higher Education (IHE’s) are excluded from vaccination requirements unless qualifying as healthcare institutions or hosting covered healthcare workers.
As of May 10, 2023, covered healthcare workers and individuals are no longer required by City regulation to wear a mask in healthcare settings.
All symptomatic individuals must continue to test, regardless of vaccination status. See sections below on vaccination records and result reporting for further information. Any changes will be announced via traditional print and social media, posted on the Health Department’s website, and communicated in Health Action Notifications (HAN).
A healthcare institution may delegate responsibility for obtaining vaccine status, evaluating exemptions, and implementing appropriate accommodations to a contracting agency. If delegated, the contracting agency must agree to abide by the following requirements:
An individual may not simply opt out of vaccination. They must submit a medical or religious exemption to the healthcare institution where such individual works according to the policies set by the institution. The institution will determine if an exemption applies.
Healthcare institutions and organizations that are granting exemptions must create appropriate exemption policies to implement this regulation. Institutions may establish stricter vaccination policies for their workers, contractors, and volunteers that exceed the requirements of the Vaccine Mandate Regulation, to the extent otherwise permitted by applicable law.
A covered healthcare worker who is granted an exemption must strictly follow the conditions for exemption. Healthcare institutions are required to keep records of vaccination status of all vaccinated individuals and exemptions requested. Records must be made available to the Health Department upon request.
Self-employed covered healthcare workers must carefully document the need for exemption and ongoing compliance with conditions as set forth below under “Conditions for Exceptions.”
The Covered healthcare worker may request an exemption by submitting a certification from a licensed healthcare provider to the appropriate healthcare institution.
Medical exemptions must include a statement signed by a licensed healthcare provider that states the exemption applies to the specific individual submitting the certification because the COVID-19 vaccine is medically contraindicated for the individual. The certification must also be signed by the healthcare worker or healthcare institution worker. For the purposes of the Vaccine Mandate Regulation, a licensed healthcare provider means a physician, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant licensed by an authorized state licensing board.
The covered healthcare worker may request an exemption by submitting a signed statement in writing that the individual has a sincerely held religious belief that prevents them from receiving the COVID-19 vaccination. An institution may request the worker explain in the certification why the worker’s religious belief prevents them receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. Philosophical or moral exemptions are not permitted.
The institution must maintain vaccination records and exemption records must be made available to the Health Department upon request.
Vaccination records must include the following information: numbers of fully, partially, unvaccinated and vaccination status unknown staff/contractors; and numbers of staff/contractors with medical or religious exemptions. Contracting agencies are responsible for reporting vaccination status of their covered workers to the healthcare institution and must maintain all records relating to vaccination status. Please note: this information must not include any confidential information such as names, dates of birth, social security numbers, or employee identification numbers.
If the employer is performing rapid testing under a CLIA certificate or waiver, positive results need to be reported to the Health Department within 24 hours of result. Results can be reported directly via a REDCap Database. Please contact COVID.EPI@phila.gov with any questions.
If the employer is not performing the testing, they do not need to report the results to the Health Department. The results will be reported directly to the Health Department by the lab or provider.
Beginning October 16th, 2021, the Health Department will exercise its inspection authority to review records per Chapter 6-500, Section 501 of the Philadelphia Code. These records must be made available to the Health Department upon request as dictated by Chapter 6-200, Section 202(4) of the Philadelphia Code and the August 4, 2022, AMENDMENT TO THE EMERGENCY REGULATION GOVERNING THE CONTROL AND PREVENTION OF COVID-19 MANDATING VACCINES FOR HEALTHCARE WORKERS AND IN HIGHER EDUCATION, HEALTHCARE, AND RELATED SETTINGS.
Records may be examined via a future scheduled submission calendar and/or unannounced in-person or electronic compliance audits of records by Health Department personnel. Method and timeline for unannounced audits will be determined in part by information reported to the (CDC) National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) system and may be required in response to complaints received against an institution. Failure to comply may result in remediation planning or immediate penalties.
These may include fines, license suspensions, and other civil remedies as provided for under Section 6-103 of The Philadelphia Code, provided that each day a violation of this Regulation continues constitutes a separate violation.