PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Governor Kate Brown announced on Wednesday that she is ordering health care workers statewide to get vaccinated or face weekly testing for COVID-19.
A 1989 Oregon law makes it the only state in the country where it is illegal to require vaccinations.
Brown said she is directing the Oregon Health Authority to issue a new rule this week. Health care workers have until September 30 to show proof of vaccination or begin weekly testing then.
The new rule applies to personnel in health care settings who have direct or indirect contact with patients or infectious materials.
Brown cited the contagious delta variant as the reason for the new rule. Cases in Oregon have been spiking in the last week as the variant is spreading.
Legacy Health also on Wednesday announced a requirement for workers to be vaccinated by September 30.
Health care workers agree with decision
The Oregon Nurses Association applauded Brown’s directive.
“This is a reasonable and sensible approach which respects the individual choices of health care workers while also protecting public health. ONA believes COVID-19 vaccinations are critical to protecting our members, our patients, our families and our communities and we urge all Oregonians who can get vaccinated to do so today. ONA is also gratified to note Oregon’s current law provides the state the flexibility necessary to respond to public health emergencies via regulation,” the ONA said in a statement. Read the full statement here.
Also in a statement, Becky Hultberg, the President and CEO of the Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems, said, “Throughout the pandemic, Oregon’s hospitals have been committed to safeguarding the health of our patients, visitors and workers. We support today’s action by Governor Brown, which will require health care workers in Oregon to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or be tested regularly for the virus. With these additional tools we can better respond to this evolving pandemic and provide the safest possible environment for those who depend on us.”
Lisa Vance, the president of strategy and operations for Providence Health, also supports this decision:
“Gov. Brown’s direction today is a welcome step. Recognizing that health care must continue to lead by example, several weeks ago Providence notified all caregivers and providers that they are required to validate vaccination or sign a statement declining the vaccine, with a deadline of Sept. 30. Providence experts are available to answer questions for those who want additional information. In addition, those declining will now be required to do at least weekly additional testing on a regular basis, participate in mandatory education about the vaccine, adhere to enhanced PPE requirements, and other measures as needed to keep our patients and all caregivers safe.”