Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Vaccine
California, New York City and the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) announced COVID-19 vaccination requirements for their employees on Monday.
For California and New York City, employees who do not get vaccinated will have to wear a mask and undergo weekly testing. The VA, however, did not offer an alternate option for its medical employees.
In a statement, the VA — the first federal agency to invoke this mandate — revealed it was supporting the 56 medical organizations that signed a letter to require all healthcare providers to be vaccinated.
“Health care workers have an ethical duty to put patients’ health and well-being first, and getting vaccinated for COVID-19 is integral to that duty,” said Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, vice provost for global initiatives at the University of Pennsylvania, who organized the petition. “Employer vaccine mandates are effective and lifesaving, and they are especially appropriate in health care and long-term care settings. No patient should have to worry that they could become infected by one of their care providers, and no provider should put their patient at risk.”
RELATED: U.S. Will Not Lift Current Travel Restrictions Due to Delta Variant — Here’s What That Means
Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough said in the agency’s announcement they are “mandating vaccines for Title 38 employees because it’s the best way to keep Veterans safe, especially as the Delta variant spreads across the country.”
Title 38 employees include physicians, dentists, podiatrists, optometrists, registered nurses, physician assistants, expanded-function dental auxiliaries and chiropractors.
McDonough added, “Whenever a Veteran or VA employee sets foot in a VA facility, they deserve to know that we have done everything in our power to protect them from COVID-19. With this mandate, we can once again make — and keep — that fundamental promise.”
Employees have eight weeks starting Monday to become fully vaccinated.
Getty A person getting vaccinated
RELATED: What to Know Now About COVID Breakthrough Cases and the Delta Variant
In California, Governor Gavin Newsom announced on Monday that all state employees and healthcare workers must show proof of vaccination by Aug. 2 and Aug. 9, respectively. Health care facilities have until Aug. 23 to reach full compliance, however, disciplinary action was not outlined.
The vaccination mandate “also applies to high-risk congregate settings like adult and senior residential facilities, homeless shelters and jails.”
“NEW: CA will have the strongest state vaccine verification system in the US and will require state employees & healthcare workers to provide proof of vaccination—or get tested regularly. We’re experiencing a pandemic of the unvaccinated. Everyone that can get vaccinated—should,” Newsom wrote on Twitter.
He followed up, writing, “As the state’s largest employer — we’re leading by example. Vaccines are the solution. We encourage local governments and other businesses to follow suit.”
Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE’s free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.
New York City adopted a similar policy requiring all healthcare workers and municipal workers including police, firefighters and teachers to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) and NYC Health + Hospitals (H+H) employees must be fully vaccinated by Aug. 2, city staffers in residential and congregate care will have until Aug. 16, and the remaining city workforce has until September 13 otherwise they will need to wear masks and get tested weekly.
“This is what it takes to continue our recovery for all of us while fighting back the delta variant,” Mayor de Blasio said in a statement. “It’s going to take all of us to finally end the fight against COVID-19.”
DOHMH Commissioner Dr. Dave A. Chokshi added, “These new requirements reflect our commitment to each other and the people we serve. In the tug of war between vaccines and the variants, we should continue to bet on the vaccines. But now is the time for our whole City to pull together to defeat Delta.”
The NYC Mayor also called on private sectors to enact a vaccine or weekly COVID-19 test mandate.
RELATED: Fauci Warns the U.S. Is ‘Going in the Wrong Direction’ as New COVID Cases Spike by 170%
The mandates come amid concerns involving the highly-contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus which is rapidly spreading throughout the United States, especially among those who are not vaccinated.
According to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the highly contagious strain is now the most common form of the COVID-19 virus circulating in the U.S., accounting for 83% of cases nationwide.
As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from the CDC, WHO and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a GoFundMe.org fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.