Thursday marked the state’s deadline for California health care workers employed at general acute care hospitals, skilled nursing facilities and other health care centers to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
The California Department of Public Health order, which was issued Aug. 5, required that all staff working in hospitals, doctor’s offices, dialysis centers, nursing homes, substance use treatment centers and other health care settings be fully vaccinated by Sept. 30. The order made California the first state in the nation to enact a vaccination requirement in health care settings.
Health care workers who did not receive the Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine will be placed on administrative leave today until they comply with the mandate, according to state guidelines.
In Santa Barbara County, the region’s three largest hospital systems — Cottage Health, Lompoc Valley Medical Center and Marian Regional Medical Center in Santa Maria (part of Dignity Health) — reported high rates of vaccination among employees on Thursday.
At LVMC, 93.2% of the 843 staff at the acute care hospital, the Comprehensive Care Center and Lompoc Health sites were fully vaccinated as of Thursday, according to Nora Wallace, the public relations coordinator for the hospital. Ms. Wallace said a few employees are partially vaccinated at this time, and once they receive their second dose, 95.1% of employees will be fully vaccinated.
A total of 39 LVMC employees received vaccine exemptions for religious or medical reasons, and those employees will be tested twice per week depending on their job function and location.
Three per diem LVMC employees are not in compliance with the CDPH order and will be suspended starting today, according to Ms. Wallace. These employees have until Dec. 1 to be fully vaccinated, or else they will be terminated.
Cottage Health also reported high vaccination numbers among employees on Thursday, with 95% of employees fully vaccinated and an additional 1% partially vaccinated, according to Maria Zate, a spokesperson for Cottage Health.
At Cottage, 198 of the 4,160 employees received religious or medical exemptions, and they will be regularly tested twice per week, according to Ms. Zate.
Vaccination statistics from Marian Regional Medical Center were not available by press time on Thursday, but Dignity Health has reported that nearly 90% of its employees across California are fully vaccinated or have received an exemption. The News-Press will update the online version of this story when figures from MRMC are available.
The CDPH order that went into effect today for most California health workers was expanded to in-home, hospice, disability care and senior center health care workers on Tuesday. CDPH is giving these workers until Nov. 30 to comply.