California Expands Vaccine Mandate for Health Care Workers

By Elizabeth H. Murphy and Reem Blaik © Jackson Lewis October 19, 2021
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In early August, California's Department of Public Health (CDPH) issued a mandate for health care workers to be vaccinated by Sept. 30. Local government agencies within California, like the County of Los Angeles Department of Public Health, passed similar orders that expanded the CDPH mandate to, for example, nonmedical in-home healthcare workers.

Then, on Sept. 28, the CDPH expanded its mandate when it issued a new vaccine requirement, adding adult care facilities and direct care workers.

Under its new mandate, the CDPH now requires covered workers to be fully vaccinated by Nov. 30.

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Covered Workers

The following workers are covered by the order:

  • All workers who provide services or work in adult and senior care facilities licensed by the California Department of Social Services.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • All hospice workers who are providing services in the home or a licensed facility.
  • 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.

Exemptions

The exceptions for those who work in-home, WPCS, and hospice, as detailed above, only apply if the workers provide services to a single household. If the workers provide services across multiple households, the exceptions do not apply, and the worker must comply with the order.

Workers may also be exempt from the vaccination requirements due to closely held religious beliefs or qualifying medical reasons. Workers who believe they are covered by either of these exemptions must provide their employer with a declination form signed by the worker.

Requirements for Unvaccinated Workers

If a worker is exempted from the vaccination requirements, either due to religious beliefs or qualifying medical reasons, the worker must comply with the following requirements:

  • Test for COVID-19 with either PCR or antigen test once weekly.
  • Wear a surgical mask or higher-level respirator, such as an N95 filtering facepiece respirator, at all times while in the facility or home.

Record-Keeping

Employers of covered workers will be required to maintain records of workers' vaccination or exemption status. Employers must also keep records regarding worker testing for those employees who are exempt from vaccination. These records must be kept confidential pursuant to applicable privacy laws and regulations.

Elizabeth H. Murphy and Reem Blaik are attorneys with Jackson Lewis in Los Angeles. © 2021 Jackson Lewis. All rights reserved. Reposted with permission. 

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