Health Order Requires Up-to-Date Vaccination for All Workers in Specific Higher-Risk Settings in Santa Clara County

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 28, 2021

Local Order builds on State Health Officer vaccination requirements in light of the rapid increase in cases due to the Omicron variant. Booster requirement will help protect patients and workers in higher-risk settings such as healthcare facilities, jails, shelters, and long-term care facilities.

SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIF. – The County of Santa Clara Health Officer issued a health order requiring up-to-date COVID-19 vaccination for workers in certain higher-risk settings in light of the rapid surge in cases due to the Omicron variant.  The new order builds on recent changes in the State Health Officer’s vaccination requirements by mandating up-to-date vaccination by workers in certain healthcare and long-term care settings.  Under the new local health order, by January 24, 2022, workers must be up-to-date on their vaccination (i.e., both fully vaccinated and boosted against COVID-19 if eligible for a booster) in these higher-risk settings:

  • skilled nursing facilities, long-term care facilities, adult day care facilities, and memory care facilities;
  • healthcare delivery facilities (such as hospitals, clinics, medical offices, dialysis centers) where patient care is provided, as well as medical first responders;
  • jails and other correctional facilities; and
  • congregate shelters.

The local order enhances the protection offered by the State Health orders by adding additional layers of security for those in higher-risk settings throughout our county, including requiring up-to-date vaccination for all medical first responders, jail staff, and shelter workers, and requiring that unvaccinated or unboosted staff who work in healthcare, jail, long-term care, or shelter settings be reassigned to lower risk settings or otherwise prohibited from working in higher-risk settings.  The order also requires workers in these settings to be up-to-date on their vaccination by January 24th rather than the State’s deadline of February 1st given how quickly the Omicron variant is accelerating spread of COVID-19, and widespread availability of vaccination appointments in our community.

“Less than two weeks ago, we noted that the Omicron variant was about to bring a deluge of new COVID-19 cases to Santa Clara County. Unfortunately, that deluge is now here,” said Dr. Sara Cody, Health Officer and Director of Public Health for the County of Santa Clara. “We urge everyone in our community to get boosted as soon as they are eligible and be highly cautious because the Omicron variant is so transmissible. It is especially essential that workers who are delivering healthcare and interacting with vulnerable populations are vaccinated and boosted in order to best protect themselves and the people in their care.”

In addition to requiring up-to-date vaccination in higher-risk settings, the health order includes important communitywide recommendations, urging businesses and individuals to do the following:

  • Everyone should get vaccinated and boosted against COVID-19 now if they have not done so already.
  • Unless everyone is wearing face masks at all times, individuals should not gather indoors in groups of more than 10 people from outside their household. 
  • Employers should immediately implement mandatory vaccination requirements for all personnel that require up-to-date vaccination as quickly as possible. 
  • Businesses and other entities should move operations and activities outdoors where possible, where there is significantly less risk of COVID-19 transmission.  Where this is not possible, ventilation should be maximized.
  • Businesses that serve the public, especially those with activities that require patrons to remove their face mask to engage in the business (e.g., restaurants and bars), should require their patrons to be up-to-date on their vaccination and show proof of up-to-date vaccination prior to entry.

Everyone over 16 who got their Pfizer or Moderna vaccinations more than six months ago or their Johnson & Johnson vaccine more than two months ago is eligible for a booster and should get one right away.

In addition to vaccinations and boosters, masking, testing, ventilation, and distancing remain the best defenses to COVID-19.

“Our community needs to know that if they call an ambulance, go to the hospital, or are in a long-term care facility, everyone working in those settings will be fully vaccinated and boosted, particularly given how easily and quickly the Omicron variant is spreading,” said Dr. Cody. “We also need to do everything we can to protect healthcare workers and others in higher-risk settings from infection and serious illness at work.  We will meet this challenge as we have met every other challenge throughout this pandemic.”

Appointments for vaccinations and boosters are available at www.sccfreevax.org. Vaccinations through the County are no-cost to the public, insurance is not required, and available regardless of immigration status.

The August 2, 2021 Health Order requiring universal indoor masking remains in effect throughout Santa Clara County.

Detailed information on the new Health Order, along with FAQs, is available at https://covid19.sccgov.org.

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