By CBS3 Staff

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Employees for the Philadelphia Housing Authority will be required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, the PHA said Friday. The agency said it has about 1,200 employees.

The PHA said employees will be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Oct. 15.

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Employees will be required to show proof of vaccination. Medical and religious exemptions will be allowed.

The agency said it’s the first housing authority in Pennsylvania to mandate COVID-19 vaccines.

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PHA President Kelvin A. Jeremiah cited increasing COVID cases and a low employee vaccination rate behind the mandate.

“PHA has done all it can to protect its residents and employees by offering vaccine and never lifting the mask mandate. We have emphasized the importance of getting the shots, yet our employee vaccination numbers remain low,” Jeremiah said. “Now with Covid cases increasing, we felt compelled to protect our coworkers and the residents we serve, especially our seniors and other vulnerable clients.”

The PHA said employees who do not get vaccinated will face disciplinary action, including possible termination. The mandate will also be a requirement for receiving employment.

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“I came to this decision, in part, because of the increasing risks posed by the COVID-19 variants, the number of employees that have been vaccinated to date, the need to protect our workforce and the essential services we provide, and equally important, the need to protect our residents as we carry out our daily responsibilities,” Jeremiah said. “This is a policy I wish we did not have to implement, but we all have a responsibility to protect one another.”