Sonoma County urges employers to require booster shots, tests

Posted on December 28, 2021 by Sonoma Valley Sun

Employers should immediately require all workers to get a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, if eligible for one, or get tested at least twice weekly for COVID under new guidelines issued today by Sonoma County Health Officer Dr. Sundari Mase.

The guidelines are voluntary but strongly recommended to help mitigate a potential winter surge in COVID-19 cases and protect the health of local workers, their families and vulnerable members of the extended community.

“COVID-19 cases are increasing again in Sonoma County, but we can keep both our community and our economy healthy if employers require workers to get a booster shot as soon as they are eligible for one,” Dr. Mase said. “People who choose not to get vaccinated or boosted should be tested for COVID at least twice a week to detect outbreaks quickly and reduce the amount of time infected workers can unknowingly transmit the virus to others.”

In addition to twice-weekly testing, employers should consider requiring unvaccinated and unboosted employees, if eligible for a booster, to wear an FDA-cleared surgical mask or respirator in indoor work settings.

“Given how contagious the omicron variant is proving to be, cloth masks are just not as effective in stopping the spread of the virus,” said Dr. Mase. “We recommend that everyone upgrade to a surgical mask or something equivalent.”

Last week, Dr. Mase issued two health orders requiring booster shots or twice-weekly testing for local school employees and for personnel working in fire, law enforcement, emergency medical services, pharmacies, dental offices and temporary disaster shelters in Sonoma County. The mandatory orders take effect Feb. 1, although Public Health highly recommends that employers covered by the orders immediately begin testing unvaccinated and unboosted employees at least twice weekly.

The county mandate expanded a California Department of Public Health order requiring health care workers, adult care facilities and direct care workers, and correctional facility and detention center health care staff to receive booster shots.

Employers can require workers to be vaccinated, including having a booster. Requiring documentation of COVID-19 vaccination, rather than self-attestation, is the best practice for employers to ensure workers are adhering to the appropriate workplace protections. Additional employer resources are available from the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing.

Sonoma Sun | Sonoma, CA