Since the rise of the Delta variant of COVID-19, there has been a trend on the federal, state, and local levels to encourage and mandate vaccinations. As such, employers should anticipate having to implement their own vaccine mandate in the very near future.
California has already begun implementing vaccine mandates on large sectors of health care employers. On July 26, 2021, the California State Health Officer issued an Order requiring workers at a majority of health care facilities in California to be either fully vaccinated, or be subject to weekly testing requirements.
The Order applies to acute health care and long-term care settings, high-risk congregate settings, and a myriad of other health care settings; including, but not limited to, adult day health care centers, congregated living health facilities, dental offices, and residential substance use treatment and mental health treatment facilities.
There are no exceptions to the testing requirements for unvaccinated workers, even if the worker has a medical contraindication to vaccination or had already recovered from COVID-19 in the last 90 days.
On August 5, 2021, California expanded the vaccination requirements for many, but not all, of the health care facilities subject to the July 26th Order above. Under this new order, the workers of certain health care facilities, including, but not limited to, skilled nursing facilities, adult day health care centers, clinics and doctor offices, and congregate living health facilities, must be vaccinated by September 30, 2021.
The only exemptions to the vaccine requirements for workers of the health care facilities subject to the August 5th Order are if the worker provides a signed declination form declining based on religious beliefs or due to a qualifying medical reason. These exempt workers will be subject to weekly testing requirements.
A second Order was issued by the California Public Health Officer on August 5, 2021, requiring general acute care hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, and intermediate care facilities to verify the vaccination status of visitors or documentation of a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours before each visit.
Implementing a vaccination requirement for your workers involves navigating various complex legal and administrative issues. Employers are encouraged to contact counsel to discuss rolling out their mandatory vaccination policy. If you have any questions about the ongoing public health orders or vaccination policies please contact Nicholas Roxborough at (818) 992-9999, ext. 222, Drew Pomerance at ext. 212, Michael Adreani, at ext. 234, Marina Vitek, at ext. 236, or Trevor Witt, at ext. 224.