Employees, physicians under Kaiser Permanente will be mandated to get COVID-19 vaccine

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All employees and physicians under the Kaiser Permanente healthcare system based in Oakland will be mandated of COVID-19 vaccines, the healthcare provider announced on Monday.

The action was made as the state and the country recorded a spike of infections driven by the more infectious delta variant of the coronavirus. All health workers and state employees are required to present COVID-19 vaccination or be subjected to weekly testing, as stated under the current state guidance. Kaiser, however, seemed to have taken another step and mandated its employees to get the vaccine.

Based on the company’s statement, the non-profit’s employees surpass 216, 000, on top of its more than 23, 000 Permanente Medical Group physicians.

SVP Hospital and Health Plan Operations Michelle Gaskill-Hames told a press call Monday that about 78 percent of employees and 95 percent of physicians in Northern California were already vaccinated.

“Our goal is that by September 30 we will have a full vaccinated workforce,” Gaskill Hames uttered.

Kaiser will begin requiring unvaccinated workers to be tested for the infection twice a week on August 23.

“We really are in a race between the vaccines and the variants,” Gaskill Hames added.

“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” Kaiser Foundation Hospitals and Health Plan chair and chief executive officer Greg A. Adams said through a statement. 

According to Adams, unvaccinated people are driving the increase in cases, citing that “97-99% of COVID-19 hospital admissions are unvaccinated patients,” according to a report by San Francisco Chronicle.

Also on Monday, masking was mandated for everyone indoors in the seven Bay Area counties along with the city of Berkeley in a bid to curb the virus spread.