California announces COVID booster requirement for health care workers

State News

(KTXL) — Gov. Gavin Newsom said he will make a formal announcement Wednesday about requiring COVID-19 booster shots for all health care workers.

California’s governor tweeted out the news Tuesday and a release sent by his office said a press conference will be held Wednesday morning at a COVID-19 vaccine and testing clinic in Alameda County.

“California will require healthcare workers to get their booster. With Omicron on the rise, we’re taking immediate actions to protect Californians and ensure our hospitals are prepared. More to come in our official announcement tomorrow,” Newsom wrote on Twitter.

Workers in most of California’s health care settings were required to be fully vaccinated by Sept. 30, unless they had a religious or medical exemption.

Medical workers for Kaiser Permanente and Sutter Health were at risk of termination if they chose not to get vaccinated or did not issue an acceptable exemption.

At the beginning of December, Kaiser said more than 98% of its employees provided proof of vaccination or requested an exemption. For exemption requests that were denied, Kaiser said employees would have 30 days to submit proof of vaccination.

Sutter told FOX40 by Dec. 1, “very few” employees had been terminated as a result of the mandate and “several” ended up getting the vaccine and returned to work after they were placed on leave.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists California as a place with “high” transmission of the virus, along with nearly everywhere else in the country. But in the last week, California averaged 114 new cases per 100,000 people, less than half of the national rate.

Meanwhile, coronavirus-related hospitalizations have been rising slowly in California, up 9% in the last two weeks to 3,523. That’s less than half of what it was during the late summer peak fueled by the delta variant and one-fifth what it was a year ago, before vaccines were widely available.

More than 70% of the state’s nearly 40 million residents have been fully vaccinated while 42% have gotten a booster shot.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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