Today marks the deadline for all health care workers in California to be vaccinated to remain employed at a hospital, per a public health order issued in August.
The order is the right step given the fact that every day in California, lives continue to be lost unnecessarily due to COVID-19, and the ripple effect on hospitals, workers, and care for patients with other needs is both significant and long-lasting. Any measure hospitals can take to protect vulnerable patients, our precious health care workforce, and the people of California must be pursued.
The current surge does appear to have hit its peak and is beginning to wane in some places, though wary eyes are on the coming flu season and the potential impact of school reopenings, winter holiday gatherings, and travel. Already, leading experts are beginning to share views that there could be a fifth surge this winter.
The vaccine mandate could provide some degree of reassurance for our state’s drained health care workers, who have been in overdrive for the better part of 18 months. They need and deserve more than a moment to exhale.
Unfortunately, and it’s hard to predict exactly how substantial the impact will be, California will see some health care workers who choose to leave employment rather than get vaccinated. This will further strain remaining staff and drive up costs for traveling professionals even more.
There’s also concern that departures will be heaviest in regions of the state that have lower vaccination rates, meaning those locations will be losing key personnel while facing a longer surge and greater potential for yet another wave as the winter holidays and flu season arrive.
That’s why, as the impact of this mandate begins to come into focus, it’s increasingly essential that the state implement the measures CHA requested earlier this month to alleviate the detrimental effects of the staffing shortage on patient care.
CHA is continuing its social media efforts to drive up vaccination rates as a whole and will keep you informed of any state or federal activity that provides the relief you so desperately need.