Mandatory COVID‑19 vaccination, booster and testing for institution/facility staff

UPDATED JANUARY 28, 2022: On January 25, 2022, CDPH extended the deadline for covered workers to acquire their booster dose from February 1, 2022, to March 1, 2022. This change was necessary because of challenges caused by the Omicron surge that made it difficult for some to obtain their booster doses by the initial deadline. Read the updated memo.

UPDATED JANUARY 12, 2022: Federal Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) approved a change in the interval between the completion of the  primary series of Pfizer and Moderna to the booster dose to five months instead of the previous six months.

The purpose of this memorandum is to address the order issued by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) on December 22, 2021, which builds upon the August 19, 2021, CDPH order.

August 19, 2021 CDPH order – full vaccination requirement for staff

The August 19, 2021, CDPH order requires workers in specified correctional health care facilities to show evidence of full vaccination for COVID-19 by October 14, 2021, or to obtain approval for a reasonable medical or religious accommodation precluding them from the mandatory full vaccination. Workers to whom this requirement applies cannot opt out of vaccination or routinely test in lieu of vaccination. The implementation plans for the August 19, 2021, CDPH order are outlined in the memoranda issued by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) and California Correctional Health Care Services (CCHCS) on August 23, 2021, September 20, 2021 and October 4, 2021.

On December 22, 2021, CDPH updated the August 19, 2021, CDPH order and now requires booster-eligible workers to receive their booster dose by no later than February 1, 2022, or to undergo twice-weekly COVID-19 testing with at least 72 hours between each test, until boosted.

Both the August 19, 2021, CDPH order and subsequent December 22, 2021, CDPH order apply to all workers at California Health Care Facility (CHCF), California Medical Facility (CMF), and the Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) at Central California Women’s Facility (CCWF). In addition, it applies to those workers regularly assigned to work in the following health care areas or posts within institutions system-wide:

  1. All Correctional Treatment Centers (CTC) and similar locations, including:
    • Medical CTC beds
    • Licensed and Unlicensed Psychiatric In-Patient Program housing
    • Licensed and Unlicensed Mental Health Crisis housing
  2. All Outpatient Housing Units (OHUs)
  3. Medical, Specialty, Mental Health, and Dental clinic treatment areas
  4. Hospice beds
  5. Dialysis units
  6. Treatment and Triage Areas (TTAs)
  7. Staff identified on the Master Assignment Roster as assigned to transportation or medical guarding in the community
  8. All Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) staff assigned to the Mental Health Residential Units, Intensive Behavioral Treatment Program Units, and Sexual Behavior Treatment Program Units
  9. All staff assigned to the Medical Wings within DJJ facilities
  10. All staff assigned to the Program Center at N.A. Chaderjian Youth Correctional Facility

All paid and unpaid regularly assigned workers/volunteers subject to both CDPH orders include but are not limited to the following: clinicians, nurses/nursing assistants, technicians, therapists, phlebotomists, pharmacists, dietary staff, janitorial and laundry staff, administrative staff, registry staff, contract staff, volunteers, custody staff, health facility maintenance workers and inmate workers. Both CDPH orders shall apply to all five-day-a-week posts and regular-day-off posts. Currently, both CDPH orders will not apply to non-regularly assigned staff, such as relief staff, voluntary overtime, mandatory overtime, swaps, or those who do not work in the area regularly, such as staff making pick-ups or deliveries, conducting maintenance repairs, conducting tours, etc. Additionally, both CDPH orders will not apply to any staff responding to emergencies.

December 22, 2021 CDPH order – booster and testing requirements for staff

The December 22, 2021, CDPH order applies to the same CDCR/CCHCS workers impacted by the August 19, 2021, CDPH order, as defined above, and requires the following:

  1. All workers currently eligible for boosters, who provide services or work in facilities as defined above shall be “fully vaccinated and boosted” for COVID-19 by receiving all recommended doses of the primary series of vaccines and a vaccine booster dose pursuant to Table A.
    • Those workers currently eligible for booster doses (per Table A) shall receive their booster dose by no later than February 1, 2022.
    • Workers not yet eligible for boosters shall be in compliance no later than 15 days after the recommended timeframe per Table A for receiving the booster dose.
  2. Beginning December 27, 2021, booster-eligible workers who have not yet received their booster dose shall undergo twice-weekly COVID-19 testing with at least 72 hours between each test, until boosted. Fully-vaccinated workers who are not yet eligible for a booster are only required to test once they become eligible for a booster but remain unboosted.
COVID-19 vaccinePrimary vaccination seriesWhen to get the vaccine booster doseWhich vaccine booster dose to receive
Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTechFirst and second dosesBooster dose five months after second doseAny of the COVID-19 vaccines authorized in the United States may be used for the booster dose, but either Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech are preferred
Johnson and Johnson (J&J)/JanssenFirst doseBooster dose two months after first doseAny of the COVID-19 vaccines authorized in the United States may be used for the booster dose, but either Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech are preferred
World Health Organization (WHO) emergency use listing COVID-19 vaccineAll recommended dosesBooster dose six months after getting all recommended dosesSingle booster dose of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine
A mix-and-match series composed of any combination of FDA-approved, FDA-authorized, or WHO-EUL COVID-19 vaccinesAll recommended dosesBooster dose six months after getting all recommended doses Single booster dose of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine

July 26, 2021 CDPH order – worker protections in high-risk settings

As a reminder, the August 19, 2021 CDPH order and subsequent December 22, 2021, CDPH order do not supplant the July 26, 2021, CDPH order. Therefore, pursuant to the July 26, 2021, CDPH order, all unvaccinated and partially vaccinated workers in High-Risk Congregate Settings, including state and local correctional facilities, shall undergo screening and testing for COVID-19 twice-weekly with at least 72 hours between each test, until fully-vaccinated.

Vaccine, booster and testing locations

Workers may obtain no-cost COVID-19 vaccination and booster from CDCR/CCHCS vaccine clinics. Alternatively, workers may obtain no-cost vaccination/booster outside CDCR/CCHCS from any clinic listed on the website myturn.ca.gov, or from their personal health care provider.

Workers may obtain no-cost COVID-19 testing from CDCR/CCHCS institution and non-institution testing locations. Alternatively, workers may obtain no-cost testing outside CDCR/CCHCS from any location listed on California’s COVID-19 website, or from their personal health care provider.

Qualifying accommodation requests

Workers to whom the mandatory COVID-19 vaccination/booster apply but who opt out of the COVID-19 vaccination/booster on the basis of their sincerely-held religious belief or due to qualifying medical reason(s) may submit a request for a religious or reasonable medical accommodation following the processes outlined in the August 23, 2021 and September 20, 2021, memoranda. The Department shall engage in the interactive process with workers to ensure a timely and appropriate determination of religious or reasonable medical accommodation.

Workers with a pending or approved/denied request shall continue reporting to work and obtain COVID-19 testing twice-weekly with at least 72-hours between each test. If the accommodation request is denied, the worker has 14 calendar days to initiate a vaccination/booster.

Face covering requirements for staff

Fully-vaccinated and booster-eligible workers (regardless of booster status) shall continue to wear at least a procedure mask while on CDCR institution/facility grounds, unless an N95 mask is required pursuant to the California Code of Regulations (CCR) Title 8, Section 5199 or the July 26, 2021, CDPH Order. Unvaccinated or partially vaccinated workers, including those with a pending or denied/approved accommodation request or disciplinary action, shall wear an N95 mask while on CDCR institution/facility grounds. Limited exceptions to masking requirements apply as outlined in the December 6, 2021, memorandum.

Non-compliance accountability

For civil service workers, refusal to comply with vaccination, booster, testing and masking mandates may result in corrective or disciplinary action in accordance with CCR Title 15, Section 3392, Employee Discipline, and the Department Operations Manual, Article 22, Employee Discipline, Section 33030.8, Causes for Corrective Action, and 33030.9, Causes for Adverse Action. Further directions to local Hiring Authorities (HA) will be forthcoming specifying expectations of progressive discipline for non-compliance by civil service workers.

For registry providers and contract workers, local HAs shall report non-compliance to the vendor/contractor/network contractor. On and after February 2, 2022, the assignment for non-compliant registry providers, contractors, and applicable retired annuitants who have neither requested nor received a religious or reasonable medical accommodation shall be ended. Assignments shall not be ended prior to this deadline. HAs shall follow the established method of communication with the vendor/contractor/network contractor to report non-compliance prior to the deadline to ensure services are provided and appropriate staffing levels are maintained.

Requirements for local hiring authority

Each local hiring authority shall be responsible for identifying workers to whom the August 19, 2021, CDPH order and subsequent December 22, 2021, CDPH order apply and notifying these workers that they are covered by and shall comply timely with both CDPH orders.

HAs may utilize the COVID-19 Staff Vaccination Registry and the COVID-19 Staff Testing Registry to monitor compliance with COVID-19 vaccination, booster, testing, and masking requirements. It is the HA’s responsibility to regularly review information from these reports and share relevant non-compliance information with their respective managers and supervisors.