Unvaccinated employees and physicians will have to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or apply for a medical or religious exemption. Kaiser Permanente is aiming to have its entire workforce fully vaccinated by Sept. 30.
“Making vaccination mandatory is the most effective way we can protect our people, our patients, and the communities we serve," said Greg A. Adams, the chair and CEO of 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."
Employees will be provided additional vaccine education and receive paid administrative time to get vaccinated, the organization said in a press release.
As of July 31, 77.8% of Kaiser Permanente employees and more than 95% of Permanente Medical Group physicians have been fully vaccinated, according to the organization.
Kaiser Permanente intends to apply the vaccination requirement in the Northwest region and says it’s aware of the 1989 Oregon law that prevents hospitals from requiring vaccinations as a condition of employment.
Despite the law, this is the second Oregon hospital or health system to announce they plan to require vaccines. Oregon Health & Science University said it plans on requiring employees to get the COVID vaccination or obtain an approved exemption by Sept. 1.
OHSU has not answered questions from KGW Investigates asking them to clarify how the hospital system can require vaccinations.
Governor Kate Brown told KGW's Cristin Severance last week, she supports hospitals being able to decide if they want employees to be vaccinated.
A spokesman for the governor's office said in an email Monday, "Our conversations with stakeholders on this subject are continuing, including with Kaiser Permanente. In response to media questions on Friday, Governor Brown said she expected to announce a decision about vaccination and testing policies for health care workers this week."
“Because of the growing seriousness of the current situation, the new risks and increased cases caused by the Delta variant, as well as the priority to keep patients and employees safe, we will act to apply the vaccination requirement in the Northwest region,” said Kaiser Permanente spokesman Michael Foley.
Foley said Kaiser Permanente is taking steps, including working with the Oregon Health Authority and Governor Kate Brown, to support vaccination to the fullest extent permitted by law.
It’s unclear what action, if any, will be taken against those who are not vaccinated or exempt by Sept. 30.
The vaccination policy applies to about 13,500 employees in the northwest, including Northwest Permanente and Permanente Dental Associates.
The health care organization is one of the largest in the country with more than 216,000 employees and over 23,000 Permanente Medical Group physicians.