In response to increasing COVID-19 hospitalizations and ICU patients due to the highly contagious Delta variant, and to further protect vulnerable Californians and health care workers, the California Department of Public Health announced Thursday healthcare workers are now required to be fully vaccinated.
This order builds on Governor Gavin Newsom’s recent announcement requiring state workers and workers in health care and high-risk congregate settings to either demonstrate proof of full vaccination or be tested at least once per week. Following the Governor’s announcement, businesses and local governments have implemented similar measures for their employees.
“As we continue to see an increase in cases and hospitalizations due to the Delta variant of COVID-19, it’s important that we protect the vulnerable patients in these settings,” said Dr. Tomás J. Aragón, CDPH Director and State Public Health Officer. “Today’s action will also ensure that health care workers themselves are protected. Vaccines are how we end this pandemic.”
A month ago, on July 5, there were 25 Kern County patients being hospitalized due to COVID-19. As of As of Aug. 3, that number more than quadrupled. According to the California Department of Public Health, 115 people were being hospitalized due to COVID-19 in Kern County hospitals.
On Thursday, Kern Public Health announced 357 new daily cases of COVID-19, a significant jump from July 30, when local health officials confirmed less than 200 new COVID-19 cases over a span of three days.
The order from the state applies to workers in hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, and in most other health care settings.
The State also made a second public health order, which directs hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, and intermediate care facilities to verify that visitors are fully vaccinated or have tested negative for COVID-19 in the prior 72 hours before indoor visits. Updates to guidance for visitors to other long-term care facilities is expected in the near future.
Health care facilities are high-risk settings where COVID-19 outbreaks can have severe consequences for vulnerable populations including hospitalization, severe illness, and death, a news release says.
“By requiring health care workers to be fully vaccinated and visitors to acute care facilities to demonstrate they are fully vaccinated or have tested negative for COVID-19, California is protecting the most vulnerable individuals, while also protecting workers in these settings,” a news release says.
Employees may have options for compensated time off to get vaccinated, including COVID Supplemental Paid Sick Leave.
Access to PPE, worker training and education, and other infection control policies are still important tools in preventing transmission. The state encourages facilities to make available resources that can help answer questions about vaccines and provide culturally sensitive advice. The state’s goal is to ensure that vaccine sites are easily accessible for these workers.
California is leading the nation in vaccinations, with more than 45 million doses administered and 76.7 percent of the eligible population having received at least one dose. However, the state is seeing increasing numbers individuals – overwhelmingly unvaccinated – contracting COVID-19 and being admitted to the hospital and ICU. This increase is primarily due to the Delta variant.
COVID-19 vaccines are safe, effective, and free. Unvaccinated Californians age 12 and up can go to myturn.ca.gov or call (833) 422-4255 to schedule an appointment or go to myturn.ca.gov/clinic to find a walk-in clinic in their county.