OAKLAND, Calif. (KRON) – COVID-19 vaccines will now be mandatory for employees and physicians at Kaiser Permanente in an effort to better protect patients and the community as cases surge.

Kaiser officials say that as of July 31, 77.8% of employees were fully vaccinated, in addition to over 95% of Permanente Medical Group physicians.

September 30 is the target date to have the organization fully vaccinated.

“We believe that this is the next step in fighting the pandemic. When we look at our current conditions with the Delta Variant and our current state of our hospitals we are approaching a fourth surge and we believe that this is what we need to keep our employees, our frontline workers, and our patients safe,” Michelle Gaskill-Hames, Senior Vice President of Kaiser Permanente, said.

Those who are unvaccinated will be required to get the vaccine or ‘apply for medical or religious exemption.’

Vice President Michelle Gaskill-Hames says by August 23, they will begin requiring COVID-19 testing twice a week for those unvaccinated.

“This past weekend we had a pop-up at one of our local churches. We had 42 young people who got vaccinated. We’re targeting the populations who have been most hesitant and right now we’re seeing that that is our young people, our Latinx community and people of color. So right now we’re trying to meet them where they are and understand what the reasons are, trying to bring the science forward and trying to promote it,” Gaskill-Hames said.

Kaiser is working with its labor unions on implementing the vaccination mandate.

“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. Large groups of
unvaccinated people are fueling the current increase in cases and 97-99% of COVID-19 hospital
admissions are unvaccinated patients. 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.”

Greg A. Adams, Chair and Chief Executive Officer, Kaiser Foundation Hospitals and Health Plan, Inc.

The organization has more than 216,000 employees and more than 23,000 physicians.

More than 907,418 COVID-19 patients have received care at Kaiser Permanente as of July 30. In addition, they have administered over 6.8 million vaccine doses.

Kaiser Permanente is the nation’s largest integrated, nonprofit health care organization.