Kaiser Permanente suspends 2,200 unvaccinated employees

Coronavirus

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Health care giant Kaiser Permanente has put more than 2,200 employees nationwide on unpaid leave for choosing not to get vaccinated against the coronavirus, but it did not disclose how many of those were in the San Diego area.

The company says the employees have until Dec. 1 to get vaccinated and those who choose not to will be terminated. The Oakland-based company, which operates hospitals and clinics throughout San Diego County, including the Kaiser Permanente San Diego Medical Center, has about 216,000 employees.

It says that since announcing the requirement on Aug. 2, the vaccination rate among employees has gone from 78% to 92%.

“This number is declining daily, and as employees respond, they may return to work,” the company said in a statement, adding that employees have until Dec. 1 to respond to the mandate to be able to return to work.

“We hope none of our employees will choose to leave their jobs rather than be vaccinated, but we won’t know with certainty until then,” the company’s statement reads. “We will continue to work with this group of employees to allay concerns and educate them about the vaccines, their benefits and risks.”

The vaccine mandates have proven successful, with many companies and employers seeing high compliance rates.

Kaiser did not disclose how many exemptions it has approved for religious and medical reasons.

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