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California healthcare worker vaccine mandate deadline is here: Now what?

Workers in non-compliance may soon be terminated from their jobs

CALIFORNIA, USA — It was two weeks ago when protestors took to the state capitol speaking out against the California's vaccine mandate for health care workers.

Sacramento nurse, Carly Rinaldi, had been vaccinated, but she said forcing it didn't sit well with her.

"I'm not okay with my friends and colleagues needing to make a choice or lose their job. I'm not comfortable with going to work with whatever reduction of work force is not coming to work with me after the mandate," she previously told ABC10.

Now, the Sept. 30 deadline for health care workers, including assisted living facility workers, to get vaccinated or get an exemption is here.

California State Epidemiologist, Dr. Erica Pan says she is not expecting shortages when it comes to unvaccinated health care workers.

"Less than 1% of of people [in healthcare] are not getting vaccinated, so it's actually been a small number who don't go ahead and get that full vaccination," Pan said.

ABC10 checked with major health care systems in the region.

Sutter Health, Kaiser Permanente, Dignity Health, and UC Davis Health all reported well over 90% of their workforces are already vaccinated.

Dr. Pan says it'll be up to health care employers to decide what to do about employees who aren't in compliance. To maintain facility licenses, its employees must be vaccinated.

Kaiser and Sutter both said that employees who are not will be placed on unpaid administrative leave starting Oct. 1. 

If employees remain out of compliance, hospital officials said they're subject to termination by Oct. 15 at Sutter Health and by Dec. 1 at Kaiser. 

Dignity Health also said any non-compliant workers will face the same process, but did not provide a timeline.

"This is a critically important mandate that helps ensure the safety of all individuals in our health care system, and it especially protects those who are critically ill who rely on hospitals and other facilities to protect their health. We will continue to do what we can to make sure individuals get vaccinated, but we expect full compliance with this deadline. We cannot underscore enough that vaccinating health care workers is a key component of providing health care," said Dr. Dr. Tomás J. Aragón, California Department of Public Health Director and State Public Health Office.

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