Penn Highlands pauses COVID-19 vaccine requirement for employees

Local News

CLEARFIELD COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — Penn Highlands Healthcare has temporarily halted its COVID-19 vaccine requirement for employees, according to an announcement Friday.

The health system announced the change after the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services issued a memorandum saying that it will not enforce its vaccine mandate while it is being challenged in court. The mandate originally requiring all health care workers across the country to receive their first dose of the vaccine by Dec. 5 was blocked by a federal judge on Tuesday.

As of Nov. 30, Penn Highlands reported about 70% of their employees are fully vaccinated against the virus and were anticipating potential staffing shortages. Those who chose not to get fully vaccinated by the Jan. 4, 2022 deadline would be placed on unpaid administrative leave for 45 days and then fired if still not vaccinated.

Now, the requirement is reportedly on hold pending the outcome of over a dozen lawsuits filed by states saying the mandate is unconstitutional and violates multiple federal statutes.

While the requirement is currently off the table, Penn Highlands is continuing to encourage everyone to be vaccinated for their safety and for the safety of their patients.

“We are encouraging the staff to get vaccinated,” Penn Highlands Chief Medical Officer Russell Cameron said. “We are holding clinics in each hospital, each week.”

 Additional information can be found on the Penn Highlands Healthcare website.

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