DENVER – Kaiser Permanente will require COVID-19 vaccinations for all its employees and physicians, joining at least three other health care systems in Colorado mandating vaccines as the highly transmissible delta variant of the novel coronavirus continues to drive up cases and hospitalizations across the U.S.
The health care provider the mandate is another step in the organization’s fight to protect its workforce, patients and the community as a whole.
“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 Chief Executive Officer, Kaiser Foundation Hospitals and Health Plan, Inc. “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.”
Adams cited figures from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) which show between 97-99% of people currently hospitalized for COVID-19 are unvaccinated and said making vaccines mandatory is the most effective way to protect patients and the rest of the community.
Employees or physicians who chose not to get vaccinated will be able to apply for a medical or religious exemption.
Kaiser officials said as of July 31, 77.8% of its employees and more than 95% of its medical group physicians are fully vaccinated. The company has set Sept. 30 as the target date to have every employee and physician fully vaccinated.
Marc Brown, a spokesperson for Kaiser Permanente, said Employees will be provided additional education on the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine and will receive paid administrative time to get vaccinated at Kaiser Permanente’s on-site vaccination clinics or at other locations. Additionally, the organization is working with its labor union on how to implement the new vaccine mandate. Kaiser has more than 216,000 employees and more than 23,000 physicians nationwide. Kaiser employs 7,200 employees and 1,200 doctors currently working in Colorado.
“We must take action to stop this pandemic and get vaccinated. The COVID-19 vaccines are scientifically proven to be safe and effective, dramatically reducing the risk of death and serious health outcomes if a person becomes infected,” said Richard Isaacs, MD, FACS, Co-CEO of the Permanente Federation. “With Kaiser Permanente’s mandatory vaccination policy, we ensure that we are doing all we can to protect ourselves, each other, and those we serve from this deadly virus.”
Last Wednesday, UCHealth, Denver Health announced they would require all employees, providers, volunteers and partners to be vaccinated for COVID-19 by the fall. Banner Heath, which operates in Northern Colorado, announced the new mandate two weeks ago.
The current 7-day rolling average of daily new cases was reported at 66,606 by the CDC, an increase of 64.1% compared to the week prior. On Monday, the White House COVID-19 Respond Team said the U.S. had reached President Joe Biden’s goal to vaccinate 70% of adults with at least one shot of the COVID-19 vaccine.