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EDMUND G. BROWN JR.
Governor

State of California—Health and Human Services Agency
California Department of Public Health


December 22, 2021


TO:
All Californians

SUBJECT:
State and Local Correctional Facilities and Detention Centers Health Care Worker Vaccination Requirement



State Public Health Officer Order of December 22, 2021


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 August 19, 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.  

I, as State Public Health Officer of the State of California, order:

1. All individuals in section (2) below must have their first dose of a one-dose regimen or their second dose of a two-dose regimen by October 14, 2021:

a. 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:

i. By the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), are listed at the FDA COVID-19 Vaccines webpage.

ii. By the World Health Organization (WHO), are listed at the WHO COVID-19 Vaccines webpage.


2. The following workers are subject to the requirements of this Order:

a. All paid and unpaid individuals who are regularly assigned to provide health care or health care services to inmates, prisoners, or detainees. This may include nurses, nursing assistants, nurse practitioners, physicians, physician assistants, technicians, therapists, phlebotomists, pharmacists, mental health providers, students and trainees, dietary, and contractual staff not employed by the correctional facility or detention center.

b. All paid and unpaid individuals who are regularly assigned to work within hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, intermediate care facilities, or the equivalent that are integrated into the correctional facility or detention center in areas where health care is provided. This includes workers providing health care to inmates, prisoners, and detainees, 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, janitorial services, laundry, correctional officers, facilities maintenance staff, administrative, inmate workers, and volunteer personnel).


3. All workers currently eligible for boosters, who provide services or work in facilities described in section (2) 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. 

Table A:
California Immunization Requirements for Covered Workers

COVID-19 VaccinePrimary vaccination seriesWhen to get the vaccine booster doseWhich vaccine booster dose to receive
Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech1st and 2nd doses Booster dose 6 mos after 2nd doseAny of the COVID-19 vaccines authorized in the United States may be used for the booster dose, but either Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech are preferred.
Johnson and Johnson [J&J]/Janssen1st dose Booster dose 2 mos after 1st doseAny of the COVID-19 vaccines authorized in the United States may be used for the booster dose, but either Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech are preferred.
World Health Organization (WHO) emergency use listing COVID-19 vaccineAll recommended doses Booster dose 6 mos after getting all recommended dosesSingle booster dose of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine
A mix and match series composed of any combination of FDA-approved, FDA-authorized, or WHO-EUL COVID-19 vaccinesAll recommended dosesBooster dose 6 mos after getting all recommended dosesSingle booster dose of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine

a. Those workers currently eligible for booster doses per the Table above must receive their booster dose by no later than February 1, 2022.  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. 


4. Workers in section (2) may be exempt from the vaccination requirements under section (1) only upon providing the operator of the correctional facility or detention center 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 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).


5. If an operator of a correctional facility or detention center deems a worker to have met the requirements of an exemption pursuant to section (4), OR deems a booster-eligible worker to have not yet received their booster dose pursuant to section (3), the worker must meet the following requirements when entering or working in such facility:

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 twice weekly for unvaccinated exempt workers and booster-eligible workers who have not yet received their booster, in acute health care and long-term care settings, and at least once weekly for such workers in other health care settings. Facilities must begin testing of all booster-eligible workers who have not yet received their booster by December 27, 2021.  CDPH strongly recommends that all workers in Skilled Nursing Facilities (including those that are fully vaccinated and boosted) undergo at least twice weekly screening testing.  

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.


6. Consistent with applicable privacy laws and regulations, the operator of the correctional facility or detention center must maintain records of workers' vaccination or exemption status. If the worker is exempt pursuant to section (4), the operator of the correctional facility or detention center then also must maintain records of the workers' testing results pursuant to section (5).

a. The correctional facility or detention center must provide such records to the local or state Public Health Officer or their designee promptly upon request, and in any event no later than the next business day after receiving the request.

b. Operators of correctional facility or detention center facilities subject to this Order 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 (4) above. Testing records pursuant to section (5) must be maintained.


7. Nothing in this Order limits otherwise applicable requirements related to Personal Protective Equipment, personnel training, and infection control policies and practices.

8. Facilities covered by this Order are encouraged to provide onsite vaccinations, easy access to nearby vaccinations,  use of work time to get vaccinated, and education and outreach on vaccinations, including:

a. access to epidemiologists, physicians, and other counselors who can answer questions or concerns related to vaccinations and provide culturally sensitive advice; and

b. access to online resources providing up to date information on COVID-19 science and research.


9. The July 26 Public Health Order will continue to apply.

10. This Order shall take effect on December 22, 2021, and facilities must be in full compliance with the Order by February 1, 2022.

11. The terms of this Order supersede the August 19, 2021 State and Local Correctional Facilities and Detention Centers Health Care Worker Vaccination Requirement

12. This Order is issued pursuant to Health and Safety Code sections 120125, 120140, 120175,120195 and 131080 and other applicable law.


Tomas Aragon Signature

Tomás J. Aragón, MD, DrPH

Director and State Public Health Officer

California Department of Public Health