FAQ-Health-Care-Worker-Vaccine-Requirement Public Health Order Questions & Answers: Health Care Worker Vaccine Requirement

Public Health Order Questions & Answers: Health Care Worker Vaccine Requirement

Updates as of September 14, 2021:

  • Updated to address workers who provide services or work in certain indoor, long-term care settings. 

Are there any exemptions to the vaccination mandate?

The Order allows for two exemptions: (1) the worker is declining vaccination based on Religious Beliefs or (2) the worker is excused from receiving any COVID-19 vaccine due to Qualifying Medical Reasons.

What are Qualifying Medical Reasons?

To determine qualifying medical reasons, the physician, nurse practitioner, or other licensed medical professional practicing under the license of a physician should refer to Interim Clinical Considerations for Use of COVID-19 Vaccines from the CDC, specifically, clinical considerations, as well as contraindications and precautions. The identified contraindications include:

  • Documented history of severe allergic reaction to one or more components of all the COVID-19 vaccines available in the U.S.
  • Documented history of severe or immediate-type hypersensitivity allergic reaction to a COVID-19 vaccine, along with a reason why you cannot be vaccinated with one of the other available formulations.

Additionally, the Interim Clinical Considerations for Use of COVID-19 Vaccines provides information on what are neither contraindications nor precautions to COVID-19 vaccination, which includes:

  • Allergic reactions (including severe allergic reactions) not related to vaccines (COVID-19 or other vaccines) or injectable therapies, such as allergic reactions related to food, pet, venom, or environmental allergies, or allergies to oral medications.

Will the State be providing a template declination / exemption form for use?

No, the State will not be providing a template declination/exemption form for use. Facilities may use any existing form or process previously used for other mandated vaccines. If an entity does not have a previously used form, they should ensure that the requirements as stated in the Order are met, including written health care provider's statement where applicable, and testing records pursuant to section (3) of the Order.

Does a worker have to provide proof for a religious exemption?

The Public Health Order requires only that workers provide the operator of the facility a declination form, signed by the worker, stating that the worker is declining vaccination based on Religious Beliefs.

Do people exempt from vaccination need to be tested if they have had COVID in the last 90 days?

Workers meeting qualified exemptions from the vaccination requirement, who have recovered from a diagnosis of COVID-19 in the last 90 days, and remained asymptomatic, do not need to submit to testing until after 90 days has expired but must self-monitor for symptoms and continue to follow all other infection control requirements, including masking, as stated in the July 26 Order. Workers must provide documentation of previous diagnosis from a healthcare provider or confirmed laboratory results to refrain from testing. Workers must immediately follow self-isolation guidelines and resume testing if new COVID-19 symptoms occur during the 90 days post-infection.

Does this Order cover those who are not directly employed by the facility, but may be providing services or care in the facility?  Is there a minimum frequency of time spent within a facility that falls under this Order that would make this Order apply to those who are not technically employed by the facility but provide service within the facility?

The Order applies to any individual who works in indoor settings where (1) care is provided to patients, or (2) patients have access for any purpose. This includes workers serving in health care or other health care settings who have the potential for direct or indirect exposure to patients or SARS-CoV-2 airborne aerosols. This would include workers, who may not be directly employed by the facility, but who are providing care on site at one of the covered facilities, as well as persons not directly involved in delivering health care, but who could be exposed to infectious agents that can be transmitted in the health care setting (e.g., clerical, dietary, environmental services, laundry, security, engineering and facilities management, administrative, billing, and volunteer personnel).

What should a facility do if they suspect a fraudulent vaccine card is being presented as proof?

Facilities should work with their counsel and may report suspected cases of healthcare fraud to the U.S. Health and Human Services through their tip line at 1-800-HHS-TIPS or by using other ways to contact the hotline.

Which tests qualify for workers who have a valid exemption? (e.g., point of care tests, rapid tests, community testing sites and do tests need to be approved by the FDA?)

Antigen, PCR, or any Nucleic acid amplification (NAAT) test would qualify and must either have Emergency Use Authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or be operating per the Laboratory Developed Test requirements by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

When does the Order take effect?

The Order will go into effect August 5, 2021.

Does a worker need to be fully vaccinated by September 30, 2021?

No. They must have either their first dose of a one-dose regimen or their second dose of a two-dose regimen by September 30, 2021.

Will the July 26 Public Health Order continue to apply?

Yes.

What facilities are impacted by the order?

The following health care facilities will be impacted by the Order:

  • General Acute Care Hospitals

  • Skilled Nursing Facilities (including Subacute Facilities)

  • Intermediate Care Facilities

  • Acute Psychiatric Hospitals

  • Adult Day Health Care Centers

  • Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) and PACE Centers

  • Ambulatory Surgery Centers

  • Chemical Dependency Recovery Hospitals

  • Clinics & Doctor Offices (including behavioral health, surgical)

  • Congregate Living Health Facilities

  • Dialysis Centers

  • Hospice Facilities

  • Pediatric Day Health and Respite Care Facilities

  • Residential Substance Use Treatment and Mental Health Treatment Facilities

How will you verify workers are vaccinated or tested?

Each facility will be required to verify and keep record of vaccination status or test results. Pursuant the CDPH Guidance for Vaccine Records Guidelines & Standards, facilities have multiple options to verify vaccine status.

Will this take staff away from already busy hospitals?

Keeping both workers and patients safe is our top priority and the purpose of this Order. We do not believe it will take staff away from already busy hospitals.

Can a worker opt to regularly test instead of getting vaccinated?

No. Testing will be an alternate means for satisfying this Order only for those who are granted an exemption pursuant to the Order.

Is California the first to do this?

We are not aware of another state with such comprehensive requirements.

Is it everyone in these settings or just workers who interact with patients?

It applies to all individuals who are either paid or unpaid and are in indoor settings where (1) care is provided to patients, or (2) patients have access for any purpose.

Are Long-Term Care Ombudsmen Who Provide Services In Residential Settings Required to be Vaccinated?

The Public Health Officer Order dated August 5, 2021, requires all workers who provide services or work in certain indoor long-term care settings (e.g., skilled nursing facilities, hospice facilities, PACE Centers, etc.) receive their first dose of a one-dose regimen or their second dose of a two-dose regime by September 30, 2021. This health order covers all paid or unpaid Long-Term Care Ombudsman representatives who provide services in those indoor long-term care settings

Who will be responsible for enforcement of the requirements under this Order? 

Each covered facility will be required to enforce the vaccine mandate and testing requirements of their respective staff (including any staff that may come from a contracted staffing agency). 

To the extent that the covered facilities are subject to state regulation, the state's regulating entities will ensure each facility is meeting the requirements for vaccine verification/exemptions. For example, the California Department of Public Health will enforce this requirement at hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, intermediate care facilities, and the other health care facilities it licenses; and the Department of Health Care Services will enforce this requirement at residential substance use treatment and mental health treatment facilities. Local health jurisdictions may also enforce the orders.

Are High Risk Congregate Settings covered under this Order?

No. Those settings—Adult and Senior Care Facilities, Homeless Shelters, and State and Local Correctional Facilities— remain covered by the July 26 Order. Additionally, State and Local Correctional Facilities with integrated health care settings are subject to the State Public Health Officer’s August 19 Order.

Are dental offices included in this Order?

No. Dental offices are not included in this Order.