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Are Oregon's vaccine mandates for health care employees working?

Some of Oregon's largest hospital systems have seen a 10% uptick in employee vaccinations since mandates were put in place.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Health care workers across Oregon and Washington must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or get an approved religious or medical exemption by Oct. 18 otherwise they could lose their jobs. 

Some hospital systems, like Legacy Health and Kaiser Permanente, have already placed employees on unpaid administrative leave for not meeting the requirement. 

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown announced the statewide mandate for health care workers on August 19. PeaceHealth and Kaiser Permanente were among several hospital systems that had already announced companywide vaccine requirements earlier in the month. 

So what impact have the mandates had on employee vaccination rates? We reached out to some of the largest hospital systems in Oregon and Washington to find out.

The vaccination rates listed below are the most current data available, unless otherwise noted. All the health systems we spoke to expect employee vaccination rates to increase as the Oct. 18 deadline gets closer.

Legacy Health

Before the mandate: 85% of employees vaccinated

After the mandate: 95% of employees vaccinated

As of Oct. 5, 95% of Legacy's 14,000 employees have been vaccinated, a 10% increase since the health system announced its vaccine requirement on August 4. 

RELATED: Unvaccinated Legacy workers protest religious exemption denials; experts say denials should hold up

Currently, Legacy has approximately 700 employees on unpaid administrative leave for not meeting the requirement. But 90 of those employees have started their vaccine series and can return to work once fully vaccinated.

Any employee who starts a vaccine series before Oct. 18 can return to work once they're fully vaccinated. Those who don't could be terminated, according to Legacy's website. 

Kaiser Permanente

Before the mandate: 79% of employees vaccinated

After the mandate: 89% of employees vaccinated

Kaiser Permanente saw a 10% uptick in vaccinations among its 11,100 employees in Oregon and southwest Washington after implementing the mandate, according to Mike Foley, a regional spokesman. 

The health system was one of the first in the area to announce a vaccine requirement back on August 2. 

According to Kaiser, 99% of its 1,300 physicians have been vaccinated. 

So far, approximately 1.5% of the local workforce has been placed on unpaid administrative leave. That works out to about 166 employees. Those folks chose not to get vaccinated or submit an exemption request.

RELATED: 2,200 unvaccinated Kaiser Permanente workers suspended

About 1,000 others have submitted exemption requests but because those requests are still being processed those workers have not been placed on administrative leave, according to Foley.

Providence Health and Services

Before the mandate: 80% of employees vaccinated (as of the start of September)

After the mandate: 90% of employees vaccinated

Today, about 90% of the 23,000 Providence employees in Oregon and southwest Washington are vaccinated, according to Providence spokesman Gary Walker. That's a 10% increase from the beginning of September when about 80% of employees were vaccinated.

Providence could not provide exact data on the number of exemptions requested or granted but said the process is ongoing. Employees have until Oct. 18 to be fully vaccinated or have an approved exemption.

Salem Health

Before the mandate: 75% of employees fully vaccinated

After the mandate: 83% of employees fully vaccinated and on pace for 88% by Oct. 18

83% of Salem Health's 6,000 employees are fully vaccinated, according to the health system. And based on the number of employees who have started their vaccine series, Salem Health expects 88% of staff will be fully vaccinated by Oct. 18.

Among medical staff specifically, 99.6% are fully vaccinated.

Employees who are not fully vaccinated or have not received an approved exemption by Oct. 18 will be placed on unpaid leave until January 31, 2022. After that, staff members could be terminated.


Before the mandate: 86% of staff and students fully vaccinated 

After the mandate: 94% of staff and students fully vaccinated

OHSU has seen an 8% bump in fully vaccinated staff and students since the week of Aug. 16. 

As of Sept. 30, more than 21,000 of the approximately 22,000 employees and students are fully vaccinated. An additional 253 are partially vaccinated, according to OHSU data.

Those who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19 or requested a medical or religious exemption by Oct. 18 will be placed on leave or laid off, according to OHSU spokeswoman Tracy Brawley.

WATCH: Here are the approved exemptions for the COVID vaccine


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