Health officials said the hope was that vaccination would become the less onerous option. But some managers and union leaders say the administration has yet to provide specifics on how testing and vaccine documentation will be managed when the new rules roll out next month.
On Tuesday, the California State University System joined the University of California in mandating vaccines this fall for all students, faculty and staff on campus. The city of Long Beach, whose mayor is a political ally of Mr. Newsom, also announced that employees would have to get vaccinated or tested weekly. The Los Angeles mayor and president of the City Council said city employees would be required to show proof of vaccination or submit to weekly testing starting this week.
Some state employees may pose more of a challenge than others.
Only about half of the thousands of unionized prison guards working in California’s vast correctional system have received a vaccine dose, according to Donald Specter, the executive director of the Prison Law Office, a nonprofit public interest law firm based in Berkeley, Calif.
Mr. Specter, whose group monitors prison health care as part of a longstanding case against the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, said his group had been urging the state since March to make vaccination mandatory for prison workers. But, he said, prison guards have tended, politically, to be among the state’s staunchest vaccine opponents.
“It’s no secret that many of the staff who work in prisons are not progressive liberals,” Mr. Specter said.
The state has offered pandemic bonuses to correctional officers and set up walk-in vaccine clinics in the prisons, and created a program to educate staff about the benefits of a vaccine. And Glen Stailey, the president of the California Correctional Peace Officers Association, which represents those working in state prisons, said in a statement the new vaccine policy was “a reasonable compromise.”
But since April, Mr. Specter said, the percentage of prison staff that has received at least one vaccine dose has moved only slightly, from 44 percent to 53 percent of employees. According to the state corrections department, there have been at least 279 new Covid-19 infections among state prison workers in the past 14 days.