Port Authority requiring employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by March

PITTSBURGH — Port Authority of Allegheny County announced today that it will be requiring its employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by March 15 or face discipline, up to termination.

According to a press release, the policy is being implemented to promote the health, wellness and safety of Port Authority’s workforce and to protect members of the riding public with whom they interact daily.

“Its very clear that if we don’t expand how many of our employees have been vaccinated, it’s going to be much harder for us,” said agency CEO Katharine Kelleman.

The policy won’t include a testing option in lieu of being vaccinated.

Employees will be notified directly about the new policy later this month that they will have until March 15 to provide proof of their vaccination status.

Employees will be considered fully vaccinated after receiving the first dose of a single-shot vaccine or after the second dose of a two-dose vaccine. Booster shots will be strongly encouraged but are not required.

As is required by law, religious and medical exemptions will be considered. Accommodations will be determined on a case-by-case basis.

Since the start of the pandemic, seven Port Authority employees have died.

In October, Port Authority began requiring all new employees be vaccinated. To date, 74 percent of Port Authority’s employees are vaccinated.

The release also states that several transit agencies across the country are requiring their employees to be vaccinated.

“With the recent surge of the Omicron variant and the proven success of the vaccine against severe illness and death, it became clear to me that a vaccine requirement is the most effective way for us to protect our employees and riders,” said Port Authority CEO Katharine Kelleman.

According to the release, seven Port Authority employees have died since the start of the pandemic. Four died before the vaccine was widely available, while three were not vaccinated.

Beginning March 16, any employee in violation of the requirement, and who does not meet an exemption and receive accommodation, could face discipline up to termination.

The Authority is working to finalize details with its unions about continuing the financial incentives and paid time off for employees who experience side effects from their vaccinations.