University of Pennsylvania Health System requires employees to get COVID vaccine or they're fired

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The University of Pennsylvania Health System has given its employees an ultimatum: get the COVID vaccine before Sept. 1 or get fired. 

The memo, which comes amid a debate about how far companies should go in compelling vaccines, was sent to employees on Wednesday. 

All employees and clinical staff must be vaccinated against the vaccine no later than Sept. 1, 2021, a Penn Medicine spokesperson told FOX Business. 

An exterior photo of the Drexel University College of Medicine. During a tour of the Drexel University College of Medicine at Tower Health under construction in Wyomissing Tuesday afternoon May 4, 2021.  (Getty Images)

Effective July 1, 2021, all new hires will either have to provide proof of vaccinations or have had completed their vaccinations at least two weeks before beginning work. 

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Staff who choose not to get vaccinated for medical or religious reasons will have to apply for an exemption. Non-exempted workers who choose not to get vaccinated will be subject to disciplinary actions – including firing, according to the memo. 

"As an institution grounded in the science and art of healthcare, we believe it is imperative for the University of Pennsylvania Health System to take the lead in requiring employee vaccinations to protect our patients and staff and to set an example to the broader community as we work together to end the COVID-19 pandemic," the Penn Medicine spokesperson said. 

Liesl Eibschutz, a medical student from Dartmouth University, loads a syringe with Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine before giving it to people on the first day that people ages 16 and up can receive the vaccine at Kedren Health on Thursday, April 15, 2021 in (Getty Images)

All UPHS employees and clinical staff have been offered the vaccine and nearly 70% – more than 33,000 people – are fully vaccinated, the spokesperson said. 

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"Evidence is clear that COVID-19 vaccines have proven to be very safe and highly effective at preventing transmission, hospitalizations, and death from the virus," the spokesperson said. "The transformational mRNA technology discoveries at Penn which laid a foundation for the first COVID-19 vaccines are a tremendous point of pride which further buoys our confidence in the science that is now being deployed to save lives across the globe."

The legality of UPHS’s policy remains unclear. No other local health systems have implemented mandatory COVID-19 vaccine policies, according to the Philadelphia Business Journal. 

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As of Wednesday, May 19, 2021, about 124 million Americans, or about 38%, have been fully vaccinated. 

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