With the increase in coronavirus cases, California health workers must now be vaccinated or tested weekly for COVID-19 and wear masks, according to a new state policy announced on Monday.
The policy follows an increase in COVID-19 infection rates statewide due to the Delta variant, now the dominant strain in California. As of this month, 80% of new cases in the state are due to the Delta variant.
Santa Clara County has had about 154 new positive infections in the past seven days, a stark comparison to the average number of around 28 per day in June.
All employees in hospitals, nursing homes, dental offices and all other health care facilities must comply with the policy by August 23.
Michelle Mello, professor of law and medicine at Stanford University, said lawmakers can enforce this policy because they have more power when it comes to protecting public health given the severity of the pandemic , while other vaccinations are not so easily needed.
She thinks the policy is a good compromise for those who are vaccinated and those who do not want to be vaccinated.
“It’s a razor sharp edge that lawmakers need to balance, sort of to determine what the right balance is,” she told the San JosÃ© Spotlight. âIt seems like a very reasonable balance to me. “
But Mello said the policy, which does not correspond to a mandate, could be difficult to enforce because healthcare workers are adults with their own autonomy.
BB Gerstman, a former epidemiologist and retired public health professor at San Jose State University, said he agrees with people having their own autonomy, but thinks everyone should get vaccinated.
âI believe people have civil liberties, but it’s beyond that,â he said. “The science is so clear.”
About 77.1% of eligible residents of Santa Clara County, or more than 1.3 million people, are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, one of the highest rates in the state.
Some healthcare workers are reluctant to get vaccinated, which could complicate enforcement of the new state policy.
But the reluctance to get vaccinated isn’t just a problem for California. In June, more than 150 nurses refusing the shots were fired or resigned from a hospital in Houston, Texas.
“We don’t have such a clear idea of ââwhy there are still holdouts in this group given the risk they face and the risk they present to patients,” Mello said, adding that Health care workers who are reluctant to get vaccinated are generally in lower positions and less educated.
Gerstman said those who don’t want to be vaccinated need to consider how it can affect those around them.
“These people may feel that they have the right to take the risk themselves, but it is not only themselves that they are putting at risk, it is everyone,” he said. -he declares.
Mello agrees that all healthcare workers should be immunized.
âI think it’s very difficult for them to support the argument that they shouldn’t have to be vaccinated at work,â she said.
Contact Annalize Freimarck at [emailÂ protected] or follow @annalise_ellen on Twitter.