CALIFORNIA, USA — California is requiring health care workers to get vaccinated against COVID-19 by September 30.
It's one of two health orders from the California Department of Public Health. CDPH said the requirement is a first in the nation effort that will also require acute care facilities to verify visitors are fully vaccinated or have tested negative for COVID-19 for indoor visits.
The requirement comes in response to increasing COVID-19 hospitalizations and ICU patients stemming from the delta variant. Health officials said there have been increasing numbers of people, mostly unvaccinated, contracting COVID-19 and being admitted to the hospital and ICU. Health officials said the orders are meant to protect vulnerable Californians and health care workers.
“As we continue to see an increase in cases and hospitalizations due to the Delta variant of COVID-19, it’s important that we protect the vulnerable patients in these settings,” Dr. Tomás J. Aragón, CDPH Director and State Public Health Officer, said in a news release. “Today’s action will also ensure that health care workers themselves are protected. Vaccines are how we end this pandemic.”
The orders come after Governor Gavin Newsom's announcement that required state workers and workers in health care and high-risk congregate settings to give proof of vaccination or be tested at least once per week.
Other businesses and local governments have implemented similar measures for their employees. Kaiser and Sutter Health were some of the major hospitals who called for employee vaccine requirements earlier this week.
In response to the announcement, the Service Employees International Union -United Healthcare Workers (SEIU-UHW) said they understand the requirement, but noted that they still have issues with the announcement.
"Unfortunately, what is missing from this announcement is long overdue recognition and appreciation from the governor and the state of California to these very same healthcare workers being called upon to step up to carry the load in hospitals and healthcare facilities across the state," the SEIU-UHW said in a statement. "As case numbers surge, we are being required to carry yet another unique burden most Californians are not. We should be treated as the essential employees we are by simultaneously being acknowledged and rewarded with hero bonuses."