Previously, healthcare workers had the option of being vaccinated or having weekly COVID-19 testing. The new order from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) removes the testing option and mandates that all healthcare workers must be fully vaccinated by Sept. 30.
The order applies to any person who works at hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, and other health care facility types listed in the order, regardless of whether the workers have contact with patients.
Medical and religious exemptions are allowed. Those granted an exemption will be required to get a COVID-19 test at least once a week.
“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,” Tomás Aragón, CDPH director and state public health officer, said in a statement.
California in June introduced a vaccine verification system for state health officials, requiring either evidence they have been vaccinated by Aug. 2 or received a negative COVID-19 test.
The new vaccine mandate was decided amid a surge in cases of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, which has dealt the state with the fastest increase in cases since the start of the pandemic, with “18.3 new cases per 100,000 people per day, with case rates increasing ninefold within two months,” the CDPH stated.
“The Delta variant is highly transmissible and may cause more severe illness. In fact, recent data suggests that viral load is roughly 1,000 times higher in people infected with the Delta variant than those infected with the original coronavirus strain, according to a recent study. The Delta variant is currently the most common variant causing new infections in California,” it added.
Currently, 63 percent of Californians aged 12 and older are fully vaccinated. Another 10 percent have received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.