California Mandates Boost Vaccination Rates Among Health Care Workers

“It’s become a real challenge for some hospitals to get enough staffing,” Ms. Emerson-Shea said, adding that her organization has asked the California attorney general to investigate reports of price gouging by agencies charging hospitals hundreds of dollars an hour for travel nurses.

This week, state public health authorities offered health facilities a 45-day grace period on compliance to fill critical staff shortages caused by the mandate.

But California has generally taken a tough stance on pandemic health measures. At the start of the crisis, the state was among the first to issue stay-at-home orders, and it has been among the most aggressive in promoting masks and vaccinations.

Mr. Newsom — who earlier this month overcame a pandemic-fueled effort to remove him from office — said this week that the state is “in discussions” with school districts about a mandate requiring eligible students to get the vaccine. State health officials this week also extended the health worker mandate to include thousands of in-home health workers and health employees at senior centers, disability centers and hospices, giving them a Nov. 30 deadline.

“This is a critically important mandate that helps ensure the safety of all individuals in our health care system, and it especially protects those who are critically ill who rely on hospitals and other facilities to protect their health,” Dr. Tomás J. Aragón, the state’s public health director, said in a statement, adding that health authorities are watching deadlines closely and “expect full compliance.”

Compliance appears to be the aim at the state’s largest health care employers. At the massive Kaiser Permanente system, for example, more than nine in 10 of the 216,000 employees and 23,000 physicians in California are fully vaccinated, a spokesman for the system said. Two weeks ago, the system’s employee vaccination rate was about 87 percent.

At Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, about 97 percent of 17,000 or so employees are now vaccinated. Dr. Jeffrey A. Smith, the chief executive, said that while most of the hospital’s staff and physicians were early adopters, as many as 800 employees got their shots after the state mandate limited their options to work at other California hospitals.

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