California Healthcare Workers Required to Receive COVID-19 Vaccine

In response to the steady increase of COVID-19 cases in California, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) on August 5, 2021, ordered that all workers who provide services or work in certain healthcare facilities must receive the COVID-19 vaccine unless they are eligible for an exemption. Workers in a covered healthcare facility must have their first dose of a one-dose regimen (Johnson and Johnson [J&J]/Janssen) or have their second dose of a two-dose regimen (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna) by September 30, 2021.

Workers may be exempted if they provide the operator of a facility a declination form 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. The Order further requires that exempted workers undergo regular COVID-19 testing and wear a surgical mask or other high-level respirators, such as an N95 mask, at all times while in the facility.

Workers are defined as “all paid and unpaid individuals who work in indoor settings where (1) care is provided to patients, or (2) patients have access for any purpose.” This broad definition covers not only those workers who have direct contact with patients, such as nurses, nursing assistants, physicians, students, trainees, contractual staff not employed by the health care facility, and the like, but also those with indirect contact, such as clerical, dietary, environmental services, laundry, security, engineering, and facilities management, administrative, billing, and volunteer personnel.

The following healthcare facilities are covered under this 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

Covered facilities must maintain records of their employees’ vaccination or exemption status, including testing results. If requested to produce these records to the local or state Public Health Officer or their designee, such production must be prompt, and in any event, no later than the next business day after receiving the request.

This Order became effective on August 5, 2021, and covered facilities must fully comply by September 30, 2021. Members with operations in California that are covered under this Order can contact the California Legal Services team at CAInfo@employerscouncil.org with any questions about their obligations.