County working toward getting its own employees vaccinated; will ask businesses to do the same

Santa Clara County Manager Jeff Smith speaks during a press conference about the coronavirus in San Jose on Feb. 28, 2020. AP photo.

BY EMILY MIBACH
Daily Post Staff Writer

Santa Clara County officials asked employers yesterday to consider requiring that their employees have vaccines for Covid. And the county is taking its own advice and intends to impose the same requirement on its own 22,000 employees, County Executive Jeff Smith told the Post.

The county is working on ironing out the details with union groups and should have further details in about a week, Smith said.

On Thursday the county joined officials in San Francisco and Contra Costa counties to recommend that employers consider requiring employees to have Covid vaccinations.

Many counties around the Bay Area, including San Mateo and Santa Clara, are recommending that people wear masks when indoors given the rise in Covid cases. Officials from the three counties said they don’t have plans, for now, to reissue a mask mandate or require vaccination for employees and expressed optimism that major employers would take steps to ensure their employees are vaccinated.

“I view this as one of our tools that we have not yet fully employed yet, so this certainly could be a step in the right direction,” said Santa Clara County Deputy Health Officer Dr. George Han. “We’ll need to see how the vaccination rates go, and how the pandemic goes and that will kind of determine what may need to happen in the future.”

Exemptions

Employees not wishing to get vaccinated can apply for medical or religious accommodations. Roughly 80% of the county’s workforce have said they are vaccinated, the remaining 20% may have been vaccinated but just declined to tell the county.

“We are very concerned about the health and welfare of our employees and our clients. With the increase in cases, particularly the Delta variant, we feel the obligation to try to assure safety to the greatest extent possible,” Smith said.

A recent Post survey of local workplaces found that some higher education institutions and some health facilities are requiring vaccinations. But vaccination requirements could be embraced by businesses ranging from a local corner store to tech giants in the county, such as Google or Apple.

So far, both Stanford Health Care and Stanford University have said their employees and students must be vaccinated. Stanford Health Care is requiring all employees to be vaccinated by Aug. 15, to protect its patients and workers, according to spokeswoman Julie Greicius.

So far, El Camino Hospital in Mountain View and Sequoia Hospital in Redwood City are not requiring employees to be vaccinated.

Stanford Provost Persis Drell announced on April 22 that all students must be vaccinated to return to campus this fall. On May 5, Drell announced that faculty, staff and postdocs also need to get vaccinated before the fall semester.

Both Foothill-DeAnza and San Mateo County community college boards have required employees and students to have Covid vaccines before attending in-person classes.

95% of PAUSD employees vaccinated

So far, public K-12 school districts have not enacted vaccination requirements. Palo Alto Unified School District Superintendent Don Austin said yesterday that about 95% of district employees have indicated they are vaccinated but there is no current expectation that all employees are to be vaccinated.

In San Francisco, both the city and UCSF, the city’s two largest employers, are requiring employees to be vaccinated. City employees will be required to get vaccinated when a vaccine gets full federal approval. Smith said yesterday that Santa Clara County employees will be required to get the vaccine even if it is still under emergency approval because the efficacy and safety of the vaccines have been well established. Smith added the final authorization of the vaccines is largely bureaucratic as no additional tests are required.

Litigation

Across the nation, there have been lawsuits against vaccination requirements, but at least two judges have ruled the requirements are legal.

Last month, a federal judge in Texas threw out a vaccination requirement challenge from 117 Houston hospital employees. Earlier this month, a federal judge in Indiana ruled that it can require its students and employees to get vaccinated after eight students sought to block the mandate.

Bay City News contributed to this report.

3 Comments

  1. NBC News, citing unnamed officials aware of the decision, reported it comes after new data suggests vaccinated individuals could have higher levels of virus and infect others amid the surge of cases driven by the delta variant of the coronavirus,” the USA Today reported in a passage that was later scrubbed from an article.

  2. Some might have been surprised to see California on Dr. Anthony Fauci’s map of high-risk areas where the new federal indoor mask mandates must be obeyed. The Golden State was deemed more high risk than Texas. Indeed, scientists are finding that despite its high vaccination rates, California is seeing more COVID cases than it should.

    California and its big coastal cities have embraced vaccines in their effort to beat back the COVID pandemic. But a Bay Area News Group analysis shows that not only are cases rising fast, they are rising in areas where there are more fully vaccinated people. Some of these counties have both among the highest vaccination rates, and the highest new-case rates.

    • But not the highest hospitalization or death rate. That is in the areas of low vaccination rates. We always knew vaccination prevented serious illness/death but were less sure about asymptomatic spread. Also the Delta variant is far more transmissible. If everyone had vaccinated early on, there would be no delta variant uptick in the US. It is the unvaccinated, including children, that are in the hospitals, ICU’s and now infecting even the vaccinated.

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