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Philadelphia Places Hundreds Of Workers From Prisons, Fire Department On Leave While Facing Staff Shortage

REUTERS/John Randolph (UNITED STATES)

Mary Rooke Staff Writer
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Philadelphia began placing unvaccinated city workers on leave despite the city facing a staffing shortage among vital employees.

About 270 city workers were placed on leave for non-compliance to the city’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

As part of the 30-day “U-Vax leave,” Philadelphia city workers were required to request an exemption to the mandate or receive at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine before June 30 or face being fired, the outlet reported. (RELATED: Philadelphia Teens Beat Elderly Man To Death With Traffic Cone)

Democratic Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney’s administration released data that showed over 22% of Philadelphia’s fire department and nearly 16% of the police department filed an exemption request, the outlet reported.

City officials have placed 22,000 unionized city workers, mainly from the fire department and the prisons department, on leave for failing to comply with the vaccine mandate, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The data showed Philadelphia placed over 5% of its unionized prison department employees and close to 4% of the city’s unionized workers in the fire department on leave, including firefighters, paramedics and EMTs, the outlet reported.

The mayor’s office released a statement defending its decision to place the city’s unvaccinated union workers on leave, saying they had “ample opportunity to come into compliance,” according to the outlet.

“Our goal has always been to ensure the safety of our employees from the devastating impact of COVID-19,” the statement said, reported the outlet. “We know that the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine is the best tool we have in fighting this virus.”

If the city continues to force city workers to comply, it faces more than 16% of the city’s public safety employees with vaccine mandate exemption requests still pending, according to the outlet.