California · COVID-19

Kaiser, Valley Children’s issue vaccine mandate for all employees

Kaiser Permanente, one of California’s single-largest health care networks, and Valley Children’s Healthcare announced Monday that they would require all employees and physicians to be vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Kaiser, the Oakland-based health care nonprofit, made the move as California counties, particularly in the Bay Area, reintroduce mask mandates as the Delta variant of the coronavirus.

“As the country’s largest integrated care delivery system, we feel it is our responsibility to do everything we can to help bring an end to the pandemic, especially in light of the dramatic increase in COVID-19 cases from the highly infectious Delta variant” said Greg A. Adams, Kaiser CEO said in a statement.

Adams added thar 97 to 99 percent of coronavirus hospital admissions to Kaiser hospitals are unvaccinated

“Making vaccination mandatory is the most effective way we can protect our people, our patients and the communities we serve. We encourage all health systems and business and industry leaders across the country to play a role in ending the pandemic by doing the same.”

The hospital group said that 77.8 percent of its total workforce and 95 percent of its physicians are fully vaccinated.

It set a deadline for Sept. 30 for employees to get fully vaccinated or seek medical or religious exemption.

Valley Children’s made its announcement mere hours after Kaiser.

Its mandate is effective Sept. 21 and extends beyond mere staff and doctors to include vendors who work in its facilities, Valley Children’s chief Todd Suntrapak said in a statement.

“A large percentage of our patient population is below the current age to receive the vaccination, increasing their vulnerability in transmitting or contracting COVID-19. We have a special obligation to care for them,” his statement added.

Valley Children’s workers may receive religious or medical exemption, but will be required to submit to weekly COVID-19 testing. Vendors are not eligible for such exemption.

Staff reports from The San Joaquin Valley Sun staff.