Why are we requiring booster doses at this time?
Current vaccine requirements of staff in adult and direct care settings are not proving sufficient to prevent transmission of the more transmissible Omicron variant. Boosters have been available in California since September 2021.
Based on the emergence of Omicron, additional statewide directed measures are necessary to ensure we maintain adequate staffing levels within our healthcare delivery system. Additionally, given the current hospital census, even a moderate surge in cases and hospitalizations could materially impact California's health care delivery system within certain regions of the state. Accordingly, making boosters mandatory and requiring additional testing of workers eligible for boosters who are not yet boosted are necessary at this critical time.
When does this amended order go into effect?
The requirement for booster doses goes into effect December 22, 2021 , and the deadline for booster-eligible covered workers to receive their booster is February 1, 2022, or within 15 days of becoming eligible for a booster if they are not eligible as of February 1, 2022. All facilities must begin testing of booster-eligible workers (who have not yet received their booster dose) by December 27, 2021 and be in full compliance by January 7, 2022.
With this new requirement, will all vaccinated workers who have not yet received their booster be required to test?
Not necessarily. Only those who are currently eligible for a booster, according to Table A in the order, would be required to test on the cadence specified in the order, until such time as they become boosted. For those workers who are vaccinated, but not yet eligible for a booster, they are not required to test, but will be required to test once they become eligible for a booster but remain unboosted. For example, if a worker received their full series of the Moderna vaccine within the last two months, they would not be considered booster-eligible and therefore would not be required to test, but will be required if they remain unboosted 6 months after they complete the second dose of the Moderna vaccine.
Which tests qualify for workers who have a valid exemption or for booster-eligible workers who have not yet received their booster? (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.
Can a worker opt to regularly test instead of getting vaccinated or boosted?
No. Testing will be an alternate means for satisfying this Order only for those who are granted an exemption pursuant to the Order.
When do booster-eligible workers have to come into compliance with this new amendment?
Booster-eligible workers who have not yet received their booster must be in compliance by no later than February 1, 2022. For those not yet eligible for a booster, they must be in compliance no later than 15 days once they become eligible for a booster.
What is the definition of "family member" as it applies to this Order?
A "family member" is defined by the agency or program that provides licensing, enforcement, and/or oversight (e.g. IHSS, CDSS, CDDS etc.) for the particular facilities or services being provided.
Are Assisted Living Facilities covered by this Order?
Yes, Assisted Living Facilities are covered by this Order.
Are Long-Term Care Ombudsmen Who Provide Services in Adult and Senior Care facilities covered by this Order?
Yes. The Order requires all workers who provide services or work in Adult and Senior Care Facilities licensed by the California Department of Social Services to have the first dose of a one-dose regimen or the second dose of a two-dose regimen by November 30, 2021. This Health Order covers all paid or unpaid Long-Term Care Ombudsman representatives who provide services in those Adult and Senior Care Facilities.
Does the Order apply to California Children's Services (CCS) Medical Therapy Unit program staff or other public health staff who provide intermittent home visits?
Yes, the Public Health Order applies to all CCS Medical Therapy Unit staff, including those who conduct home visits.
Does the Order apply to outside vendors that may need to enter a facility or home (for example, those providing durable medical equipment into the home)?
Outside vendors who do not work in the facility or home for extended periods or on a regular basis are not covered by this Order. It is recommended that facilities set up daily symptom screening and antigen testing sites for vendors not covered by the Order and provide surgical masks and hand hygiene stations. Unvaccinated vendors must wear face coverings and vendors should minimize their time spent in the facility or home, if possible. Within the context of home health or similar services, the client has the right to request proof of vaccination from the vendor prior to entry.
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
Health Care Worker Protections in High-Risk Settings 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.
Who will be responsible for enforcement of the requirements under this Order?
The employer or employer-recipient is responsible for enforcement of the requirements within this Order. As defined in the Order, an "employer" refers to an organization that employs and directs the worker in providing services. An "Employer-Recipient" refers to the person receiving services from IHSS workers, WPCS workers, and independent registered home care aides. In the case of workers in a facility, the facility is the employer. In the case of certified home health aides and affiliated home care aides, the home health agencies and home care organizations are the employer. Local health jurisdictions may also enforce the requirements in the Order. 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.
How will you verify workers are vaccinated, boosted or tested?
Each facility, employer, or employer-recipient will be required to verify and keep record of vaccination status or test results. Pursuant to the
CDPH Guidance for Vaccine Records Guidelines & Standards, facilities have multiple options to verify vaccine status.
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.
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 (8) of the Order.
Who is responsible for collecting and tracking vaccine verification and declination forms?
The employer is responsible for collecting and tracking vaccine verification and declination forms. As defined in the Order, an "employer" refers to an organization that employs and directs the worker in providing services. In the case of workers in a facility, the facility is the employer. In the case of certified home health aides and affiliated home care aides, the home health agencies and home care organizations are the employer.
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.
When did the original Order take effect?
The original Order went into effect September 28, 2021.