New vaccine policy for state employees and health care workers goes into effect

California is now requiring state employees and health care workers to show proof of COVID-19 vaccinations.

Those who don't will face mandatory weekly testing are asked to wear masks during work.

"When you work in a setting that's very high-risk like a healthcare setting, or a congregate setting, you work with people who can get really really sick with this disease," says UCSF Fresno Medicine Physician Dr. Sukhjit Dhillon. "So that's why I think it's your responsibility to get vaccinated -- not to protect yourself only but also the people that you're working with."

The new policy comes as officials aim to fight rising coronavirus infections -- mostly among the unvaccinated -- and keep the state open.

"Now with the Delta variant, which is 60 times more transmissible than the alpha variant that we originally had, it's very, very important that we get more and more people vaccinated," Dr. Dhillon said.

State officials say case rates are 600 percent higher than for those who are vaccinated.

However, if you're fully vaccinated, there's still a small chance you will get infected.

"Yes, you may still get the disease but it's going to be a very mild version or you might not even know you've got the disease," Dr. Dhillon said. "People who are not vaccinated, when they get the disease, their chances of getting very sick and going into the hospital and dying from it is very high."

SEIU Local 1000 President Richard Brown says contract conditions require state and employee representatives to "meet and confer in good faith" but that hasn't happened.

"Any type of major change to our contract that's going to affect our state employees, the State of California will send you a 30-day notice," he said.

The union represents nearly 100,000 California state employees.

"Some of our represented employees, they love what he's doing," Louis said. "They love it that he violates the contract because they feel it's for the emergency because it's for the best thing, health. And then some of our represented employees, they are raging mad."

While the policy for state workers goes into effect Monday, testing will be phased in over the next few weeks.

The new policy for health care workers and congregate facilities will take effect on August 9.

Health care facilities will have until August 23 to come into full compliance.
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