Vaccine mandate on deck for Scripps — How CEO says it can be avoided

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Chris Van Gorder, CEO of Scripps Health in San Diego, is urging unvaccinated staff to voluntarily get inoculated against COVID-19 so the health system does not have to implement a mandate.

In a July 27 memo shared with Becker's, Mr. Van Gorder told employees and physicians he expects Scripps will have to mandate vaccinations once the FDA approves a vaccine, given information he has about the pandemic trajectory and hospitals and health systems mandating vaccines.

"I entered this profession, like most of you, with the intent on being patient focused and 'doing no harm.' The FDA has determined that the vaccines are safe, protect the vaccinated, protect others and, if we can get enough people vaccinated, will reduce the chance of new and more dangerous variants. Our patients expect us to provide a safe environment and most believe that the person caring for them is vaccinated," he wrote. "The delta variant is of concern and the best way to protect ourselves and our community from another spike and more deaths is through vaccinations. As it is, Scripps has seen a more than 400 percent increase in COVID admissions since June when California relaxed the regulations around masking."

Mr. Van Gorder said Scripps' medical executive committees support mandatory vaccinations, and he believes Scripps soon will have to require employees to get vaccinated or obtain medical or religious exemptions. However, he said he'd like to avoid a mandate by having unvaccinated staff voluntarily get inoculated over the next few weeks.

As of July 27, about 15 percent of Scripps staff were unvaccinated. The health system has 15,000 employees and 3,000 affiliated physicians.

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