SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — The deadline for all healthcare workers across California to get the COVID-19 vaccine is now only one week away.
The updated order came in August, when the state said it will mandate health care workers to be fully vaccinated, eliminating the option for a negative test. Hospital workers across the state have until Sept. 30 to be fully vaccinated under the state's mandate.
Health care workers were still given the option to submit a medical or religious exemption. In San Diego County, hundreds of these exemption requests have been submitted.
Legal analyst and SDSU lecturer Wendy Patrick told ABC 10News the mandate puts hospitals in a challenging situation given the ongoing staffing shortages.
"What do you do if you have COVID cases rising, vaccination rates falling, ICU bed space dwindling? Do you lay off a significant portion of your staff because they have not been vaccinated?" said Patrick.
Right now, 89% of Sharp Health's 19,000 employees are vaccinated.
But an estimated 600 workers haven't gotten the shot and don't qualify for medical or religious exemptions. If employees don't comply by September 30, Sharp's policy says they'll be put on unpaid leave and have a month to get vaccinated or be let go.
At other hospitals, there are also unvacccinated workers at risk of losing their jobs. Scripps Health and UCSD Health report employee vaccinations rates of more than 90%, while Kaiser Permanente is nearly 90%.
The potential departure of medical workers comes as hospitals report employee shortages amid the enduring pandemic.
Last month, Scripps Health announced its seeking to fill, more than 1,300 full-time and part-time positions.