Health care workers say that in their workplace, too, the resistance is surprisingly hardened. Dr. Frank Candela, a surgeon at West Hills Hospital in Los Angeles’s San Fernando Valley, said the vaccine debate had even come up around the operating table.
“The nurse will bring up, the anesthesiologist will bring up their concerns,” he said.
Dr. Candela said that he got both doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine as soon as they were available, but that his wife, a registered nurse, feared it could alter her DNA and had not yet been inoculated. She has also prevented their four children, who are vaccine-eligible and living at home, from getting vaccinated, he said.
“It creates a great deal of stress in the household,” he said. When his 18-year-old son told him he was going to get vaccinated, Dr. Candela said he warned him: “Get ready for getting yelled at by Mom.”
Mr. Montoya serves on the statewide executive committee at S.E.I.U.-United Healthcare Workers West, where members are largely employed by private health care companies such as Dignity Health and Kaiser Permanente.
He said that he doubted that many of his colleagues could afford to quit when the new rules take effect, but that he would not be surprised if many opted for the inconvenience of masking and testing — and then tried to take legal action against their employers. Kaiser Permanente officials said that they did not have departmental data, but in the hospital overall, nearly 80 percent of the Downey employees were now vaccinated.
“Our I.C.U. was filled, people on ventilators, 80 percent of them not getting out alive,” Mr. Montoya said. “It’s heartbreaking to see how willing some people are to put not only their patients and themselves at risk.”
Kellen Browning and Matt Craig contributed reporting.