California Governor Gavin Newsom has ordered all healthcare workers in his state to receive a COVID vaccination. Hospital employees and other workers covered by the order have until September 30, 2021, to comply with the order.
Nominally issued by Thomas Aragon, California’s Director and State Public Health Officer, the order, which likely originated in Newsom’s office, has his full support. The rise of the Delta variant in the unvaccinated population played a role in issuing the order.
The order covers most healthcare workers in the state, including those at hospitals, physician’s clinics, and many other classes of medical providers. The order reduces the types of religious and medical exemptions to mandatory vaccines available to healthcare workers.
Employees qualifying for an exemption would have to wear a respirator or N95 type mask while in the facility. They would also face weekly or twice weekly COVID tests.
Many medical providers fear that forcing healthcare workers to receive the jab will result in an exodus of qualified providers in the state. Gary Herbst, the CEO of Kaweah Health in Fresno, noted that only 57% of his company’s staff is currently vaccinated. Interestingly, California currently claims that 76.7% of citizens over 12 are vaccinated.
With few states currently mandating vaccines for healthcare workers, Herbst feels that employees will have many options for employment outside of California. This could provoke a severe shortage of qualified providers, reducing the ability of hospitals to staff beds. The reduction in beds could seriously impair the ability of California providers to handle both COVID and non-COVID conditions requiring hospitalization.