CDPH Mandates Vaccine Boosters for Health Care, Direct Care Workers

Prior to the California Department of Health’s (CDPH) isolation and quarantine guidance update, the department released two orders that may have flown under some people’s radars — orders that mandate certain workers be “fully vaccinated and boosted” for COVID-19 by February 1, 2022.

More specifically, on December 22, 2021, the CDPH released:

  • An order mandating vaccine boosters for all workers who provide services or work in health care facilities, including but not limited to general acute care hospitals, skilled nursing and hospice facilities, and clinics and doctor offices; and
  • A second order mandating vaccine boosters for direct care workers, including but not limited to those who provide services or work in adult and senior care facilities licensed by the California Department of Social Services, in-home direct care services workers, and hospice workers providing either in-home services or services in a licensed facility.

The CDPH states that workers currently eligible for booster doses per the table below must receive their booster dose by no later than February 1, 2022, while workers not yet eligible for boosters must comply no later than 15 days after the recommended timeframe detailed in the table for receiving the booster dose.

California Immunization Requirements for Covered Workers 

COVID-19 VaccinePrimary vaccination seriesWhen to get the vaccine booster dose
Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech1st and 2nd dosesBooster dose 6 months after 2nd dose
Johnson and Johnson [J&J]/Janssen1st doseBooster dose 2 months after 1st dose

The orders also require twice-weekly testing of workers who are eligible for boosters but not yet boosted; it also maintains regular testing for workers who may be exempt from the vaccination and booster requirements based on a sincerely held religious belief or due to a qualifying medical reason. Under the orders, testing of all booster-eligible workers who haven’t yet received their booster was required to begin by December 27, 2021.

The impetus behind this new mandate is fourfold. First, per the CDPH, the seven-day average of COVID cases has, since Thanksgiving, increased by 34 percent while hospitalizations have increased by 17 percent; second, early data indicates that the Omicron variant is two to four times as infectious as the Delta variant; third, recent evidence shows that, among health care workers, vaccine effectiveness against COVID-19 infection is decreasing over time without boosters; and fourth, in certain regions of California, even a moderate surge in cases and hospitalizations could substantially impact California’s health care delivery system.

“As the Omicron variant spreads rapidly across the country and circulates in all regions of the state,” said Governor Gavin Newsom in a press release, “we’re taking immediate, proactive steps to protect Californians with boosters and expanded access to testing.” 

For more details on the booster mandate, visit the CDPH’s updated Health Care Worker Vaccine Requirement Q&A.

Jessica Mulholland, Managing Editor, CalChamber

Visit the CalChamber Coronavirus (COVID-19) webpage for more COVID-19-related federal, state and local resources, including CalChamber coverage.

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