Nearly 40% of California state workers are unvaccinated against COVID despite Newsom order

The COVID-19 vaccination rate is lower among California state workers than among the state’s general population, according to data from the state Human Resources Department.

Fewer than two-thirds of state workers — about 62% — were vaccinated as of Oct. 7, according to preliminary figures provided by department spokeswoman Camille Travis. That compares to a rate of about 72% among all Californians, according to state data.

The employee data is incomplete, accounting for about 213,000 of the state’s 238,000 employees, Travis said. But the relatively low rate identified so far suggests many workers weren’t moved by Gov. Gavin Newsom’s July orders to workers to get vaccinated or submit to regular testing.

Several of the largest state departments shared vaccination rates for their staff: 52% of California Highway Patrol employees, 60% of Department of Motor Vehicles employees and 60% of prison employees have received the shots. Caltrans reports a higher rate, with 70% of its employees vaccinated against COVID-19.

The Newsom administration’s shot-or-test rules for state workers are less stringent than those the governor imposed on health care workers, who must get vaccinated unless claiming a religious or medical exemption.

Newsom’s administration also is defending state prison employees’ ability to choose whether they get vaccinated. The Democrat’s administration is appealing a ruling from federal judge who ordered the state to ensure that all prison employees are vaccinated against the virus.

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