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Regional Interests

PeaceHealth joins other health care providers in mandating vaccines for ‘caregivers’

A file photo of COVID-19 vaccines.
A file photo of COVID-19 vaccines.

Another health care system in the Northwest is requiring staff to get vaccinated.

PeaceHealth, the Catholic nonprofit based in Vancouver, said Tuesday that all “caregivers” must get vaccinated against COVID-19, or provide a medical reason why they can’t, by the end of August. PeaceHealth leaders said staff who don’t get vaccinated “will be subject to regular COVID-19 testing, as well as additional masking, potential reassignment to non-patient care settings, and other safety protocols” according to a written statement.

The announcement comes a day after Kaiser Permanente made a similar decision regarding its workers. Like Kaiser, PeaceHealth put its vaccine mandate in the broader context of staying ahead of the delta variant of COVID-19, with Dr. Doug Koekkoek, PeaceHealth’s chief physician executive, noting a “rise in hospitalizations.” Koekkoek characterized the current state of the pandemic as a “public health emergency.”

“We believe all healthcare workers who are medically able should get a COVID-19 vaccine to keep themselves, our patients, and our communities safe,” Koekkoek said in PeaceHealth’s written statement.

Both mandates appear to conflict with an Oregon law that ostensibly prohibits employers from requiring health care workers to get vaccinated. Kaiser is based in Oakland, California, but is one of Oregon’s largest private health care providers. PeaceHealth is based in Southwest Washington but has several facilities in Oregon, clustered in the Eugene-Springfield area.

Kaiser acknowledged the Oregon law in its statement, but said the requirement does apply to its Oregon employees. PeaceHealth made a similar acknowledgement in an email to OPB.

Now four health systems have announced they’re requiring that workers in Oregon get shots. In addition to PeaceHealth and Kaiser, Oregon Health and Science University and the U.S. Veterans Administration are requiring staff to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Copyright 2021 Oregon Public Broadcasting