Health Care Worker Vaccination Mandate Goes Into Effect At End Of September


Photograph by Roland Lizarondo

Above: Well being care staff at Tri-Metropolis Medical Middle in Oceanside rally in assist of The Well being Care and Important Staff Safety Act, August 25, 2020.

In simply over two weeks California’s vaccination mandate for well being care staff goes into impact — in contrast to different necessities there is no such thing as a testing opt-out choice.

Newest numbers from the biggest well being suppliers in San Diego County present there are nonetheless many staff who want the vaccine, or threat shedding their jobs.

At Sharp HealthCare and UC San Diego Well being 89% of workers are absolutely vaccinated. At Scripps Well being it’s 88%; 87% at Rady Youngsters’s Hospital and 77% at Palomar Well being. Native Kaiser officers didn’t present numbers to KPBS, a spokesperson mentioned they have been nonetheless engaged on calculating them.

“We’re undoubtedly very involved — it’s not simply Sharp. It’s all our different well being care companions on the town,” mentioned Sharp HealthCare’s Chief Working Officer Brett McClain. KPBS additionally requested interviews about this matter with officers from UC San Diego Well being, Scripps, Rady Youngsters’s, Palomar Well being and Kaiser.

McClain mentioned there are greater than 600 staff who haven’t began their vaccinations or filed for exemptions, which means they may very well be terminated — one thing McClain hopes doesn’t occur, particularly throughout an industry-wide staffing scarcity.

“Very, very worrisome,” he mentioned. “We’re enacting contingency plans to verify we’ve got issues in place to ensure that we are able to proceed to maintain sufferers.”

RELATED: California To Mandate COVID-19 Vaccines For Well being Staff

Whereas the state ordered well being care staff to be vaccinated by Sept. 30, officers are leaving it to employers to implement the requirement.

At Sharp, staff not in compliance will likely be placed on unpaid go away for 30 days and if they aren’t vaccinated by then, they are going to be not employed. At Palomar Well being, folks will go on a go away of absence for as much as 30 days with penalties nonetheless but to be decided. At Kaiser, unvaccinated staff will likely be on unpaid go away for as much as 60 days earlier than going through termination.

UC San Diego Well being can be adhering to the state’s mandate, their web site says these not in compliance might face disciplinary actions. Scripps Well being and Rady Youngsters’s Hospital officers mentioned they’re complying with the mandate, however didn’t present their insurance policies.

“The coverage pertaining to those that usually are not vaccinated by the deadline and haven’t been granted an exemption is below improvement,” a Rady Youngsters’s spokesperson mentioned.

Well being care staff also can request exemptions primarily based on medical or non secular causes.

“Once you’re speaking concerning the medical or incapacity exemption you need to have a word from the well being care supplier — the identical isn’t true with the non secular exemption,” mentioned authorized analyst Dan Eaton, an lawyer with Seltzer, Caplan, McMahon and Vitek.

Techniques are getting a whole lot of requests for non secular exemptions. At Scripps, a spokesperson mentioned they’ve gotten greater than 500 requests for exemptions, principally citing non secular beliefs. Sharp officers have obtained greater than 800 exemption requests, with 700 citing non secular causes.

Eaton mentioned there’s a grey space in figuring out what really qualifies as a non secular exemption.

“Employers definitely can have staff fill out a kind explaining the premise of the non secular exemption,” he mentioned. “That’s actually designed to see actually the premise of the non secular exemption is admittedly tied to faith or whether or not it’s tied to a philosophical resistance — now the road between faith and philosophy isn’t solely clear.”

Eaton mentioned it must be a bona-fide non secular perception and thinks there could also be lawsuits surrounding non secular exemption requests if they’re denied, however he mentioned it has largely been untested within the courts. He additionally added that employers usually are not required to grant an exemption — whether or not it’s primarily based on medical or non secular causes — if it places an “undue burden” on the employer.

“Which means it must be a big monetary or operational burden — this will likely qualify nevertheless it’s not solely clear that it’ll,” Eaton mentioned. “There was some writing to counsel that staff who refuse to get vaccinated are by that truth imposing an undue burden on the power of their employer to open up.”

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Reported by Matt Hoffman

McClain with Sharp mentioned with out particular steering from the state on what precisely a non secular exemption is, they’re put in a tough place.

“Usually we will be extremely liberal in these approvals,” he mentioned. “It is not our place to get in the course of that.”

Those that are unvaccinated and get authorised exemptions must be commonly examined and will likely be required to put on surgical masks whereas inside well being care services.


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Matt Hoffman

Well being Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI’m a common project reporter for KPBS. Along with overlaying the most recent information and points which can be related to the San Diego neighborhood, I prefer to dig deeper to search out the voices and views that different media typically miss.

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