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California’s aggressive push to vaccinate millions of healthcare workers against COVID-19 appears to have been mostly successful, with many hospitals and other healthcare facilities reporting overwhelmingly high rates of inoculated employees by the Thursday deadline.

Thousands of workers remain unvaccinated, either in defiance of the state’s order or through approved exemptions for medical or religious reasons. But the number of holdouts seems to represent a small fraction of the Golden State’s approximately 2.4 million healthcare workers.

The holdouts nevertheless represent a significant test for employers and public health officials grappling with how to apply the state’s new requirements, including how to ensure compliance from a vast network of health facilities.

Some hospitals said they plan to fire workers Friday; others are starting with suspensions. Most said they plan to offer grace periods to employees who change their minds. Several said they expected the state to give understaffed hospitals hit hard by the Delta variant a 45-day extension to allow administrators to make alternate staffing plans.

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