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Kaiser Permanente Branch Mandates All Employees, Including Pregnant Women, Take Coronavirus Vaccine
UNITED STATES - January 25: Vials of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine sit on a table at the Kaiser Permanente Capitol Hill Medical Center in Washington on Monday, Jan. 25, 2021.
Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

A branch of Kaiser Permanente — the second largest healthcare organization in the nation — is requiring all employees, including pregnant women, to take the COVID-19 vaccine. 

According to internal documents from The Southeast Permanente Medical Group (TSPMG), a branch of Kaiser Permanente, all employees must be fully vaccinated by July 28. The document also states that the coronavirus vaccine has been approved by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) for emergency use only and has not gained full FDA approval. 

The document claims that “COVID-19 vaccines are reported to be safe in pregnant women, and no obvious safety signals were reported among pregnant women who received COVID-19 vaccines.”

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) claims that there is “limited data” available about the “safety of COVID-19 vaccines for people who are pregnant,” though experts believe vaccines are unlikely to pose a risk to pregnant women. 

Employees who have medical or religious contraindications will be exempt from taking the vaccine, though they will be required to wear a mask at work “for the foreseeable future.” 

TSPMG is joining a growing list of employers and universities that are mandating that employees obtain a coronavirus vaccination before returning to work. 

The document sent to TSPMG employees read: 

To our knowledge, there are several healthcare systems across the US that are requiring vaccinations at this time. Additionally, many colleges/universities are requiring vaccination to return to school in the fall, and several prominent businesses outside of healthcare have announced plans to require vaccination of their employees. We want to lead in workplace safety in our local as well as national markets. This mandatory vaccine approach, building on our leadership with universal masking in March 2020, will keep us at the forefront of the COVID-19 response. We hope that other organizations will follow our lead. 

TSPMG and Kaiser Permanente did not respond to requests for comment about what the consequences of not getting a coronavirus vaccine would be. The document claims that unvaccinated employees will receive “the same corrective action as for failure to receive the influenza vaccine” once it receives full FDA approval. 

Similar vaccination mandates resulted in a lawsuit at Houston Methodist hospital after employees were suspended for refusing to get vaccinated. The suspended employees faced potential termination. 

Kara Shepherd, a labor and delivery nurse involved in the lawsuit, said she felt “disposable” despite putting her life on the line throughout the toughest days of the coronavirus pandemic. 

“All last year, through the COVID pandemic, we came to work and did our jobs,” Shepherd told KHOU-TV. “We did what we were asked. This year, we’re basically told we’re disposable.”

According to a report from The Daily Wire, businesses can require that employees get vaccinated without violating federal law. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), employers must make “reasonable accommodations” for employees who do not get vaccinated due to religious beliefs, pregnancy, or disabilities. 

A growing number of universities and colleges are also mandating vaccinations for students and faculty before returning to campus in the fall. Rutgers University was the first school to mandate vaccinations for students. Cornell University and Notre Dame University followed shortly behind. 

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