California Requiring Vaccine Verification For All State Employees, Healthcare Workers But Officials Say It’s Not A Mandate

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“With all due respect,” said California Governor Gavin Newsom on Monday, “you don’t have a choice to go out and drink and drive. That’s the equivalent. You’re putting other people’s lives at risk. Your choice not to get vaccinated and to listen to these pundits…comes at a real societal cost. We need to be clear about that and we need to call that out.”

According to Newsom and the State Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Human Resources, California will soon require all state employees and health care workers — both public and private — to verify their vaccination status, either through a vaccine card or vaccine code, which is issued by the state. Officials stress the move is not a “mandate.”

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For those who remain unvaccinated in hospitals, it will mean twice a week testing. For those who are in areas where patient care and patient encounters. For healthcare providers who provide outpatient services, such as dental offices, there will be once a week testing for the unvaccinated.

The state’s 246,000 employees, who are currently under a self-attestation process for any of them who wants to remove masks, will have to do the same. If they do not provide proof of vaccination, they will have to wear a mask in the office and submit to a regular testing regime.

State officials encouraged all employers to have such a system in pace so that they can verify who is vaccinated and who is not, implement masks and testing and avoid outbreaks. Three counties in the state last week issued guidance last week recommending employers do just that.

The change is expected to begin taking place over the next couple weeks. State workers will have until Aug. 2 to prove to their employer that they are vaccinated. A health officer order will require implementation begin among healthcare workers on August 9. Full compliance will be required by August 23.

The news comes as the Delta variant has driven the state’s 7-day average of new cases topped 6400. Over the past three days, CA HHS says that average is 7,300. The average number of cases per 100,000 in the state — considered a good indicator of the rise and fall of infections — has gone from 1.9 per 100,000 on May 15 to 9.4/100,000 on Monday (the state’s Covid dashboard actually says 11.2 per 100,000). It’s thought that, among unvaccinated residents, the case rate thought to be above 14 per 100,000. Likewise, the 7-day average test positivity rate has gone from 0.7% on May 15 to 5.3% on Monday.

Covid-related hospitalizations in the state, a big concern when cases are rising, have gone from 900 on May 15 to above 3000 on Monday. The state added 200 new patients in last 30 hours, according to state sources. Fifty nine patients were admitted to the ICU. In total, there are over 600 emitted across the sate

The goal is to prepare for the number of hospitalizations and deaths to increase among the unvaccinated population. “Our projections are sobering,” said Newsom on Monday as he announced the requirement.

Just this morning, more than 30 prominent healthcare organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Nursing, the Association of American Medical Colleges, National Hispanic Medical Association, the National Pharmaceutical Association and the Society of Hospital Medicine signed a letter calling for mandatory vaccinations for healthcare workers.

The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has announced that employers could require workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 as long as they did not violate the Americans with Disabilities and the Civil Rights acts.

As of mid-July, nearly every state had bills introduced seeking to ban vaccination as a requirement of employment. Nine have actually passed such legislation and five of those bills have been signed by the respective states’ governors.

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