Kaiser Permanente is requiring all employees and physicians to get vaccinated against COVID-19, the health care organization announced Monday.
The organization, which is the largest private employer in Los Angeles County, has set a target date of September 30 to reach a fully vaccinated workforce. The move is a part of the organization’s ongoing effort to protect the health and safety of its workforce, members, patients and communities, according to a Kaiser news release.
Kaiser, the nation’s largest integrated, nonprofit health care organization, has more than 216,000 employees and more than 23,000 Permanente Medical Group physicians. As of Saturday, 77.8% of its employees and more than 95% of its physicians were already fully vaccinated.
“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” said Greg A. Adams, chair and CEO of Kaiser Foundation Hospitals and Health Plan, Inc.
“Large groups of unvaccinated people are fueling the current increase in cases and 97-99% of COVID-19 hospital admissions are unvaccinated patients,” Adams continued. “Making vaccination mandatory is the most effective way we can protect our people, our patients and the communities we serve. We encourage all health systems and business and industry leaders across the country to play a role in ending the pandemic by doing the same.”
Employees will be provided educational materials on the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine and will get paid administrative time to get inoculated at Kaiser’s on-site vaccination clinics or at other locations.
The organization is working with its labor unions to implement the vaccination mandate and will also coordinate with local, state and federal laws, according to the news release.
Unvaccinated employees and physicians may apply for medical or religious exemption.
As of Friday, Kaiser has cared for more than 907,418 patients with COVID-19 and has administered over 6.8 million vaccine doses, including over 68% of Kaiser members receiving at least one dose.
“For 16 months, we have been doing everything we can to save lives, care for COVID-19 patients, and prevent our communities from contracting this deadly virus,” said Dr. Ramin Davidoff, co-CEO of the Permanente Federation. “The COVID-19 vaccines offer us the path to move beyond the pandemic in the same way vaccination has brought an end to the epidemics of smallpox, polio, measles and other deadly diseases.”