“The hardest gap is the political battle – people who don’t want it for political reasons,” said Dr. Susan Smith, senior vice president of the University of California San Francisco Health, which includes four hospitals and outpatient clinics. “That’s hard to close because it’s just been so polarized nationally.”
UCSF is not mandating the vaccine but it is requiring all employees to either get vaccinated or seek a waiver by explaining why they are declining the vaccine by June 30.
One public hospital group that has taken a softer approach is the University of New Mexico Health. It reported the highest vaccination rate in the USA TODAY survey at 91%. The group was partly blessed by being in a state with a high vaccination rate. According to the state health department, 56% of the state is fully vaccinated now.
But the provider recently staged a 10-day campaign to get its rate to 100%. The campaign relied primarily on education and barely made a difference, increasing it to about 91.5%.
“Clearly, being unvaccinated still today puts you at risk,” said Douglas Ziedonis, the health care provider’s chief executive officer. “That message would be, ‘If you have not been vaccinated, get vaccinated. Just because you had COVID before doesn’t mean you’ll be immune from these new variants.’”