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Dental offices in San Francisco and Los Angeles County must comply with new local vaccination orders

August 16, 2021 13658
Photo shows a partial image of a COVID-19 vaccination record and a vial with label reading

Quick Summary:

Compliance with the local orders is required by Sept. 30 and Oct. 13, respectively. Both orders are more stringent than the state public health order of July 26. Dentists and dental staff in Los Angeles County and San Francisco who cannot show proof of COVID-19 vaccination will no longer have the option to be tested weekly once the local orders take effect, unless they meet allowable exemptions.

Update: Corrected information about the Berkeley health order

Sept. 21, 2021: CDA updated the article to include correct information about the requirements of the Berkeley health order. Compliance with the Berkeley order begins Oct. 15.

Local orders more stringent than state public health order

Dental-office staff in Los Angeles County and San Francisco will be required soon to show proof of vaccination to work in or enter dental facilities following two new public health orders issued last week. 

The local orders are more stringent than the state public health order of July 26 that requires all health care providers in California, including dentists and dental staff, to either show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or, if unvaccinated, to be tested regularly by the Aug. 23 compliance deadline.

Dentists and dental staff in San Francisco and Los Angeles County who cannot show proof of COVID-19 vaccination will no longer have the option to be tested weekly once the local orders take effect, unless they meet allowable exemptions. Dental offices will need to comply with the state order between Aug. 23 and the compliance deadline of their local order. 

Beginning Oct. 15, dental-office employees and other specified employees in Berkeley will need to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or provide necessary documenation to demonstrate an exemption under federal law. Exempted workers must show proof of a negative COVID-19 test before they can enter their place of employment per the city health officer's order of Sept. 1. The Berkeley health order is similar to the San Francisco and Los Angeles orders except that it mandates weekly proof of a negative test as a condition for an employee to enter the workplace.

The local orders come as cities and counties struggle with increasing COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations driven primarily by the delta variant among unvaccinated individuals.

Los Angeles County order compliance deadline is Sept. 30

The Los Angeles County Health Department’s Aug. 12 order mandates all health care workers to receive the COVID-19 vaccination by Sept. 30, 2021.  
Dentists should read the full order to understand the details, but the key requirements are:

  • All workers must have their first dose of a one-dose regimen or their second dose of a two-dose regimen by Sept. 30.
  • “Worker” refers to all paid and unpaid employees, contractors, volunteers and nonclinical office staff.
  • Workers may be exempt from the vaccination requirement for qualifying medical reasons or religious beliefs.
  • Exempt workers must be tested at least once weekly using either a nucleic acid or an antigen test.
  • Employers must follow the required record-keeping requirements for fully vaccinated and vaccination-exempt workers.

San Francisco County order compliance deadline is Oct. 13 

Beginning Oct. 13, dental-office workers in San Francisco must be fully vaccinated to work in or enter the dental facility according to the local order issued Aug. 12. The order also applies to workers at residential care facilities, pharmacists and other health care workers. A new mandate is also in place for businesses in certain high-contact indoor sectors and for large indoor events.

Dentists should read the full order for the details. The key requirements include:

  • All workers must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before entering or working in a dental office effective Oct. 13.
  • “Worker” is defined as an employee, a contractor and subcontractor, an independent contractor, a vendor permitted to sell products or services on-site and any other individual who regularly provides services on-site.
  • Workers may be exempt from the vaccination requirement for qualifying medical reasons or religious beliefs.
  • Unvaccinated exempt personnel must be tested for COVID-19 at least once weekly using either a nucleic acid or antigen test.
  • Employer must follow the required record-keeping requirements for fully vaccinated and unvaccinated workers.

CDA FAQ, resources available

The following CDA resources can help dentists comply with the state and local orders:

CDA seeking clarification on outstanding employment questions

CDA is seeking additional guidance on how employers should respond if employees refuse to be vaccinated. In the interim, employers are encouraged to seek legal advice before separating from an employee. CDA will keep members informed through the newsroom and weekly newsletter as more information becomes available.