Frankel supports ‘vaccine or test’ requirement for certain state employees

Pertains to workers in state health care and high-risk congregate care facilities

PITTSBURGH, Aug. 10 – State Rep. Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny, offered his support for Gov. Tom Wolf’s announcement requiring certain commonwealth employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19 or undergo weekly testing.

The announcement, made Tuesday afternoon, requires all workers in state health care facilities and high-risk congregate care facilities to be fully vaccinated by Sept. 7. Workers refusing to get vaccinated will need to undergo weekly COVID-19 testing. This action will impact approximately 25,000 employees working in state hospitals, state homes for people with intellectual disabilities, veterans homes, community health centers, and state correction institutions.

Frankel applauded Wolf’s move, noting that it is a balanced approach to protecting folks from a largely preventable calamity.

“Some of our most vulnerable Pennsylvanians are in these facilities, and they are depending on this commonwealth to do all that we can to protect them when they are under our care,” Frankel said.

"It’s already so hard for families when they realize they can no longer take care of loved ones themselves. This initiative can provide some peace of mind that residents at state and high-risk congregate facilities are not being needlessly exposed to COVID-19 when a safe and effective vaccine is available to all."

Frankel also pointed to the vastly different vaccination rates in state correctional facilities, particularly between inmates and staff, as evidence this requirement is necessary. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections COVID-19 Dashboard, 85.4% of SCI inmates are fully vaccinated. That’s compared to just 22.4% of SCI staff that are fully vaccinated.

More than 11.7 million vaccinations have been administered to date in Pennsylvania, ranking the commonwealth 5th in the country for number of total doses. Additionally, 63.8% of Pennsylvanians aged 18 and older are fully vaccinated.