Kaiser Permanente, one of the largest health care consortiums in the United States, has suspended almost 2,200 employees that have refused to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. The health care conglomerate announced on Tuesday.
In a statement to the press, Kaiser Permanente said it has an obligation to its 550,000 members and patients in Colorado, its 12.5 million members across the U.S., and to their employees, physicians, and communities to ensure their safety and to protect them from infection.
Kaiser Permanente first announced their COVID-19 vaccine mandate on August 2nd, at which time the company recorded a vaccination rate of around 78 percent. “Since August, we’ve made remarkable progress,” the statement continued. “More than 92% of our employees nationwide have been vaccinated and the number continues to grow.”
Unfortunately, as of October 4th, just over 2,200 have not responded to Kaiser Permanente’s vaccine requirement. As a result, they have been put on unpaid administrative leave across the country. But the good news is that this number is decreasing every day. And as employees get their COVID shots they can return to work.
All remaining Kaiser Permanente employees have until December 1st to get vaccinated and return to work. Those who choose not to get the shot will be terminated. According to reports, Kaiser said its overall vaccination rate currently stands at 92%.
Additionally, Kaiser Permanente said third-party workers (which includes vendors, contractors, and suppliers) will also need to have proof of vaccination to enter one of their facilities. The company estimated that the number of these suppliers was around 40,000.
Kaiser Permanente has its headquarters in Oakland, California, and operates in eight different states as well as Washington, D.C. This includes California and Georgia, states with the first and sixth-highest number of coronavirus cases in the country respectively. The company’s decision to suspend unvaccinated workers is part of a nationwide campaign to lower new cases of the virus.
Moreover, Kaiser Permanente is encouraging more than 2,000 community organizations, that the company supports through grants and program funding, to mandate vaccinations. This includes grants that forge meaningful partnerships with local nonprofits, public agencies, like-minded foundations, and other institutions. The company’s website says the purpose of the move enables them to achieve the greatest possible impact on health.
The Kaiser Permanente mandate is just the latest in a series of pressured moves by health care companies to get their employees vaccinated. Reuters reported that Northwell Health, the largest health care provider in New York, had fired 1,400 of its employees that refused to get vaccinated. But the group was only a small portion of Northwell’s 76,000 employees.
While the entire situation might seem unfair, Kaiser Permanente is simply following new federal guidelines set out by President Joe Biden in September. The new rules state that American employers and businesses with more than 100 workers must all be vaccinated or take a mandatory COVID-19 test once a week. It is likely we will see more of these suspensions and possible firings from other major comapnies in the next few months.