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For many California health care workers, fully vaccinated against COVID-19 now means getting booster

Dental offices not included in state order, but Santa Clara County, San Francisco orders mandate booster for dental personnel

December 22, 2021 3906
Label on needle/syringe reads: COVID-19 Booster Vaccination

Quick Summary:

Santa Clara on Dec. 28 became the first California county to mandate the booster for dental personnel by either Jan. 24 or March 21 depending on whether they are already fully vaccinated. San Francisco on Dec. 29 issued a similar booster order, and other cities and counties may follow suit.

Article updated Jan. 4 and Jan. 7 to include information about Santa Clara County and San Francisco's booster health orders for health care delivery facilities, including dental offices, and other specified settings.

California on Dec. 22 issued an order requiring approximately 2.5 million of the state’s health care workers to get the COVID-19 booster to be considered fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. Similar to the September order mandating health care workers to be vaccinated without a weekly testing option, today's order does not include dental offices statewide.

However, Santa Clara County on Dec. 28 issued an order that does require dental-office personnel to receive the booster, if they are eligible to receive it, by either Jan. 24 or March 21, depending on whether they are already fully vaccinated, and San Francisco on Dec. 29 updated its booster order to include dental personnel. Other California counties may follow suit with similar orders. 

The state order comes as the omicron variant continues to spread rapidly, becoming the dominant variant in the state and across the U.S. and causing a surge in new infections. More than 70% of new COVID-19 cases in the U.S. are caused by omicron, and health care officials and scientists are still learning about the variant and its health impacts.

Here’s a summary of the new California order:

  • Includes clinics and physicians' offices, general acute care hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, skilled nursing facilities and other health care facilities 
  • Does not include dental offices
  • Impacted workers who are eligible to receive the booster must receive the booster by Feb. 1, 2022
  • Impacted workers must be tested twice weekly until they receive the booster

State health officials encourage all Californians to receive the booster to protect themselves and others, including vulnerable patients. The governor’s office stated that it will expand hours at state-operated testing centers to “ensure every Californian has access to testing.”

California dental offices should continue to comply with the Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard and the state’s vaccinate-or-test mandate (effective Aug. 23) if not their stricter local mandate.

Read the full order issued today for details on California’s immunization requirements for covered workers. The order includes an easy-reference chart. Also see CDA’s COVID-19 exposure resources, Laboratory Testing Toolkit and Vaccine Confidence Toolkit.

Santa Clara County booster health order 

The Santa Clara County health officer’s Dec. 28 order requires fully vaccinated personnel in specified settings to receive the COVID-19 booster, provided they are eligible to receive it, no later than Monday, Jan. 24. Personnel who are not already fully vaccinated must receive their first dose of a COVID vaccine by Jan. 24 and become fully vaccinated by March 21. 

CDA has clarified with county officials that dental facilities are included in the order under section 2Eb, although the order does not expressly list dental offices. Hospitals, medical clinics, skilled nursing facilities and other facilities are also included in the order. 

Personnel who are not in compliance with the vaccination requirements in section 2E may not continue in what the county deems “higher-risk settings” after Feb. 1 and March 21, respectively. 

Dental facilities are included in the county order not because of a perceived or verified “high risk” of transmission of COVID-19 during dental care but because the omicron variant is more contagious in the community. Requiring health care workers be fully up to date on their vaccination will also help to ensure health care facilities can maintain their capacity to provide care as case rates continue to climb. 

The Santa Clara County order also mandates employers implement and follow appropriate record-keeping, including recording the dates of all vaccine doses received by personnel. Dental offices in Santa Clara County should read the complete order for definitions of terms and details on all requirements. 

San Francisco booster health order

The San Francisco public health order on COVID-19 vaccine coverage was updated Dec. 29 to include personnel working in dental offices as well as home health care workers, pharmacists, paramedics, police officers and other specified personnel.

These personnel have until Feb. 1 to comply with the new booster-verification requirement, provided they are eligible to receive the booster. Those who become eligible for a booster after Jan. 17 must receive the booster no more than 15 days after they become eligible. 

The order states that due to the threat omicron poses to hospital capacity, personnel are "strongly urged to receive their booster as soon as possible before the deadline." Dental personnel in San Franciso should read the full order for complete details.

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