FRIDAY, Aug. 6, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- All 2.2 million health care workers and long-term care workers in California will now have to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Sept. 30, the California Department of Public Health said Thursday.
Last month, Gov. Gavin Newsom said health care workers would have the choice of either getting vaccinated or undergoing weekly testing, but the state health department's order does not give them a choice, the Associated Press reported.
The order was issued as the most populous state in the country struggles to slow infections caused by the highly contagious Delta variant, the AP reported.
There will be exceptions for religious beliefs or for those who can't get vaccinated due to qualifying medical reasons that are confirmed with a note signed by a licensed medical professional.
"Increasing numbers of health care workers are among the new positive cases, despite vaccinations being prioritized for this group when vaccines initially became available," said Dr. Tomás J. Aragón, California's public health officer, the AP reported. "Recent outbreaks in health care settings have frequently been traced to unvaccinated staff members."
California is grappling with the fastest increase in new cases since the start of the pandemic, averaging 18.3 new cases per 100,000 people a day.
The state's order represents a new hard line to convince the hesitant to get the vaccine. Several states are focusing on health care workers, since they are around vulnerable patients, the AP reported.
California's new vaccine mandate applies to workers in most health care facilities, including hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, psychiatric hospitals, adult day health care centers, dialysis centers, hospice facilities and clinics, and doctor's offices.Carmela Coyle, president and CEO of the California Hospital Association, called the vaccine mandate "an important step in the long battle we face against COVID-19 and the multiple variants that have emerged."Coyle said, "We are once again on a dangerous precipice that demands both our fortitude and our goodwill to protect loved ones and neighbors. California's health care workers are being called upon – as they have through every step of this pandemic — to lead the charge in the battle between vaccine and variant."
Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more on COVID vaccines.
SOURCE: Associated Press