(Old Main at Penn State University. Image via Flickr Commons)
Pennsylvania’s largest university will require all employees working at its main campus to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
Penn State University President Eric Barron announced Tuesday that all employees at the University Park campus in Centre County, regardless of whether they work on a federal contract, must provide proof of vaccination by Dec. 8. The new policy also applies to those working remotely.
The announcement comes after Penn State’s August decision not to require the COVID-19 vaccine, citing potential financial consequences from the Republican-controlled Legislature, which contributes about 4 percent of Penn State’s total operating budget.
The shift is in response to President Joe Biden’s September executive order that requires all federal employees and contracts to get vaccinated against the coronavirus. The mandate does not include other branch campuses, but Barron said administrators are “closely reviewing” the president’s order and how it could affect other campuses.
There are about 1,000 employees on federal contracts at University Park, including in administrative units and research institutes that exceed $500 million in federal funding, the university said in a statement. At least 22,000 people work at the university’s main campus where more than 40,000 students are enrolled.
“For all practical intents and purposes, it has become evident that we must extend the mandate to all employees at University Park,” Barron said. “The great majority of Penn State employees report being vaccinated, which will accelerate compliance.”
A university spokesperson did not respond to questions about the new policy.
The new policy does not include students unless they are supported on payroll or graduate assistantships. The university said information on the exemption request process, which could include medical or religious reasons, is forthcoming, as are procedures for policy violations.
“We are strongly urging all of our employees across the commonwealth to start the vaccination process now if they have not done so already,” he said.
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