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California Issues the First Mandatory Vaccination Order

by Jennifer Shaw | | August 6, 2021

On August 5, 2021, the California Department of Public Health issued the first mandatory vaccination order in the country.  The order applies to all workers (paid and unpaid) who provide services or work in “health care facilities,” such as acute care hospitals, adult day health centers, and clinics, in any capacity.  Covered workers must receive their first dose of a one-dose vaccine (Johnson and Johnson) or the second dose of one of the two-dose vaccines (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna) by September 30, 2021.

Workers may obtain an exemption from the vaccination requirement only if they complete a signed declination form stating that they are declining the vaccination due to religious beliefs or for “qualifying medical reasons.”  If the worker is seeking a medical exemption, they must provide a written statement signed by a physician, nurse practitioner, or “other licensed medical professional” stating the probable duration of the worker’s inability to receive a vaccination.  The statement should not disclose the worker’s underlying medical condition.

Exempt workers must test for COVID-19 twice weekly if they work in acute health care and long-term care settings, and weekly if they work in other settings.  In addition, they must wear a surgical mask or “higher-level respirator,” approved by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, such as an N95, at all times while they are inside the facility.

Employers must maintain records of workers’ vaccination or exemption status and COVID-19 test results.

In a related order issued the same day, the CDPH directed acute care facilities to verify that visitors are fully vaccinated or have tested negative for COVID-19 for indoor visits.  This requirement is effective on August 11, 2021.

Read the vaccination order here.

Read the visitor order here.

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