UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — In compliance with President Joe Biden’s Sept. 9 executive order requiring COVID-19 vaccination for all federal employees, contractors and others, Penn State has determined that all University Park faculty and staff, regardless of whether or not they work on federal contracts, must submit proof that they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Dec. 8.
A task group led by Lindsey Droz, director of operations in the University Budget Office, is determining the means by which employees will submit their vaccine confirmation and those details will be shared with the University community when they are finalized. At University Park alone, Penn State has about 1,000 federal contracts, including those in the Applied Research Laboratory, several different colleges, administrative units, and research institutes with a collective value that exceeds $500 million in federal funding. Additionally, there are many more federal grants and cooperative agreements that potentially may be subject to the requirement.
Biden’s executive order applies to employees in buildings even where no federal contracting work takes place, unless the institution can “affirmatively determine” that none of its unvaccinated employees will come into contact with a vaccinated contractor employee. “For all practical intents and purposes, it has become evident that we must extend the mandate to all employees at University Park,” said Penn State President Eric J. Barron. “The great majority of Penn State employees report being vaccinated, which will accelerate compliance.”
Because of the federal deadline of Dec. 8, all employees who are not already vaccinated are strongly urged to start the process immediately. Individuals are considered to be fully vaccinated two weeks after the single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine or two weeks after the second dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines, which require four weeks or three weeks between doses, respectively. Nov. 24 is the last day individuals can get their final dose to meet the Dec. 8 deadline.
“While the great majority of federal contracts impact the University Park campus, we are closely reviewing the Biden administration’s mandate and how it may apply to employees at other campuses and locations, as other parts of the University also receive government support,” said Barron. “So we are strongly urging all of our employees across the commonwealth to start the vaccination process now, if they have not already done so.”
At this time, the vaccine requirement applies to all Penn State University Park employees, including full-time and part-time faculty, staff and technical service workers, even if they are working remotely. This requirement also applies to graduate and undergraduate students supported on wage payroll, as well as all students supported on graduate assistantships at University Park. In addition, all employees will still be required to follow masking guidelines already in place for indoor buildings and venues.
Under the umbrella of the executive order, all Penn State employees must be vaccinated unless they are entitled to a medical exemption or an accommodation for religious beliefs. Information on the exemption request process for faculty and staff is forthcoming. Procedures, including potential employment sanctions, are in place for employees who violate University policies intended to comply with federal requirements.
In addition to the vaccine mandate for University Park employees, those who work and learn at Penn State at the Navy Yard are also subject to a vaccine mandate from the City of Philadelphia. As of Sept. 30, 100% of affected students and employees at the Navy Yard are fully vaccinated.
All three authorized COVID-19 vaccines are readily available at hospitals, urgent care centers, doctor’s offices and pharmacies. Providers can be easily located by visiting Vaccines.gov.