David Goldman / AP
California is implementing what it calls the “country’s first requirement” that healthcare workers statewide be vaccinated against COVID-19.
The state is currently experiencing its largest increase in coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic, with case rates “increasing ninefold in the past two months” according to the new order from the California Department of Public Health.
The CRPD seeks to protect vulnerable populations in the state and to keep health facilities functioning consistently across the state. Under the order announced Thursday, paid and unpaid workers in health facilities have until September 30 to be fully immunized. The ordinance applies to those who provide services or work in hospitals, care facilities, mental hospitals, clinics and doctor’s offices. It also includes dialysis centers and residential drug treatment centers and at least half a dozen other facilities.
As of Thursday, 63% of residents aged 12 or older are fully immunized and 10% have received at least one dose, the CDPH said. But the rapid rise of the delta variant worries California health officials.
“An increasing number of health workers are among the new positive cases, although vaccinations were a priority for this group when vaccines first became available,” said the CDPH. âRecent outbreaks in health facilities have often been attributed to unvaccinated staff members. “
Exceptions: religious beliefs or qualified medical condition
Facilities requiring vaccination will need to check the status of their staff and have a plan to monitor who has and has not been stung. Proof of vaccination can take the form of a COVID-19 vaccination card, health care documents or digital records accessible by a QR code or from documents from another employer requiring vaccination. If a person cannot prove that they have received a full dose, facilities will have to assume that they are not vaccinated.
There are, however, two exceptions: religious beliefs or a qualified medical condition. Staff who refuse to be vaccinated on the basis of either will be excused. Those requesting the medical exemption do not need to disclose their condition, but must provide a written statement from a health care professional stating that they are unable to receive the vaccine and for how long. Unvaccinated workers will need to be tested for COVID-19 up to twice a week and will be required to wear a respirator or surgical mask at all times while on the job.
California Governor Gavin Newsom announced the order on Twitter Thursday. Some people applauded the news, while others wondered what would happen if enough staff refused to shoot and instead chose to leave.
NEW: California will now require workers in healthcare facilities to be fully immunized against COVID-19 by September 30.
– Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) August 5, 2021
More than 150 employees quit or were fired from their jobs at a Houston hospital system after receiving a similar ultimatum. And the nation is already facing a healthcare worker crisis. A Kaiser Family Foundation study found that three in 10 healthcare professionals are considering quitting their jobs due to pandemic burnout.
While California is the first state to implement such a vaccine mandate, some states are doing everything in their power to prevent vaccine requirements and have passed legislation banning the mandates.
The United States has more than 90,000 new infections a day, the highest daily rate since mid-February. With a delta on the rise, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is predicting up to 9,100 new coronavirus deaths by the end of August.