Santa Clara County Rescinds COVID Vaccine Mandate for Workers in High-Risk Settings

Workers at Santa Clara County health care and long-term care facilities, homeless shelters and prisons will no longer be required to get vaccinated against COVID-19 after the county’s health officer on Monday rescinded a health order mandating that they do so.

The rollback comes as the new omicron booster shots become available across the Bay Area, with the White House recommending people get the shot by Halloween. 

Vaccination or frequent testing has been a requirement for Santa Clara County workers in settings with a high-risk of viral transmission since last summer, when most counties in the Bay Area responded to the rise of highly contagious variants by mandating vaccination and, once they became available, booster vaccine doses.

Santa Clara County Health Officer and Public Health Director Dr. Sara Cody said Monday the county’s high vaccination rate and easy access to COVID testing made the existing mandate unnecessary.

“COVID-19 remains a serious threat to our community, and I urge everyone to continue to protect each other and the most vulnerable among us by masking and staying up to date on their vaccinations with the latest bivalent booster,” she said in a statement.

Cody also rescinded health orders requiring large health care providers like Kaiser Permanente and Sutter Health Palo Alto Medical Foundation to provide requisite COVID testing and requiring all health care workers to get a flu vaccine and wear a mask indoors.

Under state public health rules, masks are still required in high-risk settings.

UCSF infectious disease expert Dr. Peter Chin-Hong said this rollback for the county makes sense.

As of Monday, 87.1% of county residents have completed their initial vaccination series. In addition, 69% of residents ages 5 and up have received at least one booster vaccine dose.

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