Related Materials: Adult Care Facilities and Direct Care Worker Vaccine Requirement Q&A | All Facilities Letter 21-34.3
Updates as of February 22, 2022:
State Public Health Officer Order of February 22, 2022
Since the start of the pandemic, CDPH has led with science and data to better understand this disease. There has been a growing body of evidence suggesting that a combination of history of SarsCoV2 vaccination and infection can lead to a strong “hybrid” immunity after recovery from infection. Additionally, there is immunological data suggesting that allowing an adequate interval between an infection and a COVID-19 vaccination dose may be important to allow quality immune memory.
Vaccines continue to remain the most critical aspect of moving our communities out of this pandemic. They lower risk of getting and spreading the virus that causes COVID-19 and also prevent serious illness and death. They are critical for building a foundation of individual and herd immunity, especially while a portion of our population continues to be unvaccinated. According to the CDC ”… getting a COVID-19 vaccination is a safer and more dependable way to build immunity to COVID-19 than getting sick with COVID-19. COVID-19 vaccination causes a more predictable immune response than infection with the virus that causes COVID-19.” Conversely, the level of protection people get from COVID-19 infection alone may vary widely depending on how mild or severe their illness was, the time since their infection, which variant they were infected with, and their age. Increasing evidence shows that a combination of infection after completing the primary series of vaccination can build strong hybrid immunity. Thus CDPH is updating its order requiring health care workers to be fully vaccinated and boosted by March 1, 2022 to allow delay of the March 1, 2022 deadline for receiving a booster for covered workers with proof of a recent infection for up to 90 days from date of infection.
Accordingly, amendments to the original State Public Health Officer Order of December 22, 2021, are needed at this time, to reflect current science and understanding as it relates to hybrid immunity in those who are fully vaccinated and then become infected. As we continue to learn more about post-Omicron infection immunity, hybrid immunity, waning immunity in general, and what new variants may evolve, we will continue to reassess COVID-19 vaccine requirements and recommendations.
Since Thanksgiving, the statewide seven-day average case rate has increased by 34% and hospitalizations have increased by 17%. In addition, the recent emergence of the Omicron variant (it is estimated that approximately 70% of cases sequenced, nationally, are Omicron and rapid increases are occurring globally) further emphasizes the importance of vaccination, boosters, and prevention efforts, including testing, which are needed to continue protecting against COVID-19.
Early data also suggest the increased transmissibility of the Omicron variant is two to four times as infectious as the Delta variant, and there is evidence of immune evasion. Recent evidence also shows that among healthcare workers, vaccine effectiveness against COVID-19 infection is also decreasing over time without boosters. Consequently, current vaccine requirements of staff in health care settings are not proving sufficient to prevent transmission of the more transmissible Omicron variant. Boosters have been available in California since September 2021.
Although COVID-19 vaccination remains effective in preventing severe disease, recent data suggest vaccination becomes less effective over time at preventing infection or milder illness with symptoms, especially in people aged 65 years and older.
Based on the emergence of Omicron, additional statewide facility-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, amendments to the original State Public Health Officer Order of September 28, 2021, to make boosters mandatory and to require additional testing of workers eligible for boosters who are not yet boosted are necessary at this critical time.
The COVID-19 pandemic remains a significant challenge in California. COVID-19 vaccines are effective in reducing infection and serious impacts including hospitalization and death. At present, 69.34% of Californians 12 years of age and older are fully vaccinated with an additional 8.26% are partially vaccinated. California continues to experience high-levels COVID-19 cases with 21.1 new cases per 100,000 people per day, with case rates currently tenfold higher as compared to June 2, 2021. The Delta variant is highly transmissible and causes more severe illness. In fact, recent data suggests that viral load is roughly 1,000 times higher in people infected with the Delta variant than those infected with the original coronavirus strain, according to a recent study. The Delta variant is currently the most common variant causing new infections in California.
Unvaccinated persons are more likely to get infected and spread the virus, which is transmitted through the air. Most current hospitalizations and deaths are among unvaccinated persons. California's hospital and health care delivery system is strained. Additional statewide directed measures are necessary to protect particularly vulnerable populations, and ensure a sufficient, consistent supply of workers in high-risk care settings. These measures can improve vaccination rates in these settings, which ensures that both the individuals being served as well as the workers providing the services, are protected from COVID-19.
Adult and senior care facilities, and settings within which direct care and services are provided, as identified in this order, are high-risk settings where COVID-19 transmission and outbreaks can have severe consequences for vulnerable populations resulting in hospitalization, severe illness, and death. Further, the settings in this order share several features. There is frequent contact between staff or workers and highly vulnerable individuals, including elderly, chronically ill, critically ill, medically fragile, and people with disabilities. In many of these settings, the consumers and residents are at high risk of severe COVID-19 disease due to underlying health conditions, advanced age, or both.
Among 19,830 confirmed COVID-19 outbreaks throughout the pandemic, 47% were associated with the health care, congregate care, and direct care sector. The top industry settings are adult and senior care facilities and in-home direct care settings (22%) where increasing numbers of workers are among the new positive cases and recent outbreaks in these types of settings have frequently been traced to unvaccinated individuals.
Vaccination against COVID-19 is the most effective means of preventing infection with the COVID-19 virus, and subsequent transmission and outbreaks. As we respond to the ongoing pandemic, all workers in adult and senior care facilities and in-home direct care settings must be vaccinated to reduce the chance of transmission to vulnerable populations.
For these reasons, COVID-19 remains a concern to public health and, in order to prevent its further spread in adult and senior care facilities and in-home direct care settings, new public health requirements are necessary at this time.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, as State Public Health Officer of the State of California, order:
1. All individuals in subdivisions (a) through (e) must have the first dose of a one-dose regimen or the second dose of a two-dose regimen by November 30, 2021.
a. All workers who provide services or work in Adult and Senior Care Facilities licensed by the California Department of Social Services;
b. All in-home direct care services workers, including registered home care aides and certified home health aides, except for those workers who only provide services to a recipient with whom they live or who are a family member of the recipient for whom they provide services;
c. All waiver personal care services (WPCS) providers, as defined by the California Department of Health Care Services, and in-home supportive services (IHSS) providers, as defined by the California Department of Social Services, except for those workers who only provide services to a recipient with whom they live or who are a family member of the recipient for whom they provide services;
d. All hospice workers who are providing services in the home or in a licensed facility; and
e. All regional center employees, as well as service provider workers, who provide services to a consumer through the network of Regional Centers serving individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities, except for those workers who only provide services to a recipient with whom they live or who are a family member of the recipient for whom they provide services.
2. All workers who are eligible for the exceptions outlined in subdivisions (b), (c), and (e) of section (1) must only provide services to a single household. If the worker provides services across multiple households, then the exception does not apply, and the worker must adhere to the provisions of this Order.
3. Two-dose vaccines include: Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna or vaccine authorized by the World Health Organization. The one-dose vaccine is: Johnson and Johnson [J&J]/Janssen. All COVID-19 vaccines that are currently authorized for emergency use can be found at the following links:
a. By the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), are listed at the FDA COVID-19 Vaccines webpage.
b. By the World Health Organization (WHO), are listed at the WHO COVID-19 Vaccines webpage.
4. "Worker" refers to all paid and unpaid individuals who work in indoor settings where (1) care is provided to individuals, or (2) persons in care have access for any purpose. This includes workers serving in residential care or other direct care settings who have the potential for direct or indirect exposure to persons in care or SARS-CoV-2 airborne aerosols. Workers include, but are not limited to, direct supportive services staff, hospice providers, nurses, nursing assistants, physicians, technicians, therapists, WPCS providers, IHSS providers, registered home care aides, certified home health aides, students and trainees, contractual staff not employed by the residential facility, and persons not directly involved in providing care or services, but who could be exposed to infectious agents that can be transmitted in the care setting (e.g., clerical, clergy, dietary, environmental services, laundry, security, engineering and facilities management, administrative, billing, cosmetology, personal training and volunteer personnel).
5. "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.
6. "Employer-Recipient" refers to the person receiving services from IHSS workers, WPCS workers, and independent registered home care aides.
7. All workers currently eligible for boosters, who provide services or work in indoor settings described in section (4) must be "fully vaccinated and boosted" for COVID-19 by receiving all recommended doses of the primary series of vaccines and a vaccine booster dose pursuant to Table A below.
California Immunization Requirements for Covered Workers
a. Those workers currently eligible for booster doses per the Table above must receive their booster dose by no later than March 1, 2022.[i] Workers who provide proof of COVID-19 infection after completion of their primary series [ii] may defer booster administration for up to 90 days from date of first positive test or clinical diagnosis, which in some situations, may extend the booster dose requirement beyond March 1st. Workers not yet eligible for boosters must be in compliance no later than 15 days after the recommended timeframe above for receiving the booster dose. Workers with a deferral due to a proven COVID-19 infection must be in compliance no later than 15 days after the expiration of their deferral.
8. Workers may be exempt from the vaccination requirements under section (1) only upon providing the employer or employer-recipient a declination form, signed by the individual stating either of the following: (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.
a. To be eligible for a Qualified Medical Reasons exemption the worker must also provide to their employer or employer-recipient a written statement signed by a physician, nurse practitioner, or other licensed medical professional practicing under the license of a physician stating that the individual qualifies for the exemption (but the statement should not describe the underlying medical condition or disability) and indicating the probable duration of the worker's inability to receive the vaccine (or if the duration is unknown or permanent, so indicate).
9. If an employer or employer-recipient deems a worker listed above under section (1) to have met the requirements of an exemption pursuant to section (8), OR deems a booster-eligible worker to have not yet received their booster dose pursuant to section (7), the worker must meet the following requirements when entering or working in such facility or home:
a. Test for COVID-19 with either PCR or antigen test that either has 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. Testing must occur at least once weekly for such workers. Facilities, employer-recipients, and direct care service workers must begin testing of all booster-eligible workers who have not yet received their booster by December 27, 2021.
b. Wear a surgical mask or higher-level respirator approved by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), such as an N95 filtering facepiece respirator, at all times while in the facility or home.
10. Consistent with applicable privacy laws and regulations, an employer must maintain records of workers' vaccination or exemption status. If the worker is exempt pursuant to section (8), the employer as applicable also must maintain records of the workers' testing results pursuant to section (9). For IHSS workers, WPCS workers, and independent registered home care aides, the worker must maintain relevant records as provided in this section.
a. The employer must provide such records to the local or state Public Health Officer, the California Department of Social Services, or their designee promptly upon request, and in any event no later than the next business day after receiving the request.
b. Employers and workers subject to the requirement under section (1) must maintain records pursuant to the CDPH Guidance for Vaccine Records Guidelines & Standards with the following information: (1) full name and date of birth; (2) vaccine manufacturer; and (3) date of vaccine administration (for first dose and, if applicable, second dose).
c. For unvaccinated workers: signed declination forms with written health care provider's statement where applicable, as described in section (6) above. Testing records pursuant to section (9) must be maintained.
11. Nothing in this Order limits otherwise applicable requirements related to Personal Protective Equipment, personnel training, and infection control policies and practices.
12. Facilities covered by this Order, to the extent possible, are encouraged to provide onsite vaccinations, easy access to nearby vaccinations, use of work time to get vaccinated, and education and outreach on vaccinations.
13. The July 26 Public Health Order will continue to apply.
14. This Order shall take effect on December 22, 2021, and facilities must be in compliance with the Order by February 1, 2022, with the exception of the deadlines set forth in section 2.a, which facilities must comply with as written.
15. The terms of this Order supersede the September 28, 2021 Adult Care Facilities and Direct Care Worker Vaccine Requirement.
16. This Order is issued pursuant to Health and Safety Code sections 120125, 120140, 120175,120195 and 131080 and other applicable law.