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Employees, CEO of care facility square off over requiring COVID-19 vaccination

ALLEGHENY COUNTY, Pa. — Several employees from The Pine on Mount Lebanon emailed Channel 11 saying they were being forced to take the COVID-19 vaccine or be fired.

“I would say what’s unfair is to put residents at risk from employees that are not vaccinated,” said CEO Larry Rouvelas.

Rouvelas said his team sent a letter to staff members saying, in part, “This urgent appeal is to clarify that we have decided we must require COVID-19 vaccinations as a condition of employment for all members of our Integra Care team.”

“Once it gets inside, it can spread pretty widely and residents get sick,” Rouvelas said. “Sometimes residents pass away and that is, it’s a fact of the senior housing field and we did not want a repeat of 2020 happening in 2021.”

He said 96% of the staff and at least 94% of the residents have been vaccinated.

One of the employees told Channel 11 they believe they should be allowed to have the choice to get it or not.

“I’m in support of getting it. I don’t think you should be forced to get it though,” said Emily Fenty.

“I think it’s a personal choice even though the vaccine has proven safe in trials. You are still asking somebody to inject something into their body,” said Damian Campbell.

Rouvelas said he’s giving employees several more weeks to make their decision and after that, if they still don’t want to get it, they could be looking for another job.

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