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State of California—Health and Human Services Agency
California Department of Public Health

February 22, 2022

All Californians

State and Local Correctional Facilities and Detention Centers Health Care Worker Vaccination Requirement

Note:This guidance is no longer in effect and is for historical purposes only.  

Updates as of February 22, 2022:

  • Allows for workers with completed primary series vaccination and recent infection to defer booster dose by up to 90 days from infection. 

State Public Health Officer Order of February 22, 2022

Since the start of the pandemic, CDPH has led with science and data to better understand this disease.  There has been a growing body of evidence suggesting that a combination of history of SarsCoV2 vaccination and infection can lead to a strong "hybrid" immunity after recovery from infection.  Additionally, there is immunological data suggesting that allowing an adequate interval between an infection and a COVID-19 vaccination dose may be important to allow quality immune memory.   

Vaccines continue to remain the most critical aspect of moving our communities out of this pandemic.  They lower risk of getting and spreading the virus that causes COVID-19 and also prevent serious illness and death.  They are critical for building a foundation of individual and herd immunity, especially while a portion of our population continues to be unvaccinated.  According to the CDC "… getting a COVID-19 vaccination is a safer and more dependable way to build immunity to COVID-19 than getting sick with COVID-19. COVID-19 vaccination causes a more predictable immune response than infection with the virus that causes COVID-19."  Conversely, the level of protection people get from COVID-19 infection alone may vary widely depending on how mild or severe their illness was, the time since their infection, which variant they were infected with, and their age.  Increasing evidence shows that a combination of infection after completing the primary series of vaccination can build strong hybrid immunity. Thus CDPH is updating its order requiring health care workers to be fully vaccinated and boosted by March 1, 2022 to allow delay of the March 1, 2022 deadline for receiving a booster for covered workers with proof of a recent infection for up to 90 days from date of infection. 

Accordingly, amendments to the original State Public Health Officer Order of December 22, 2021, are needed at this time, to reflect current science and understanding as it relates to hybrid immunity in those who are fully vaccinated and then become infected. As we continue to learn more about post-Omicron infection immunity, hybrid immunity, waning immunity in general, and what new variants may evolve, we will continue to reassess COVID-19 vaccine requirements and recommendations. 

Introduction from Original State Public Health Officer Order of December 22, 2021 

Since Thanksgiving, the statewide seven-day average case rate has increased by 34% and hospitalizations have increased by 17%. In addition, the recent emergence of the Omicron variant (it is estimated that approximately 70% of cases sequenced, nationally, are Omicron and rapid increases are occurring globally) further emphasizes the importance of vaccination, boosters, and prevention efforts, including testing, which are needed to continue protecting against COVID-19.  

Early data also suggest the increased transmissibility of the Omicron variant is two to four times as infectious as the Delta variant, and there is evidence of immune evasion. Recent evidence also shows that among healthcare workers, vaccine effectiveness against COVID-19 infection is also decreasing over time without boosters.  Consequently, current vaccine requirements of staff in health care settings are not proving sufficient to prevent transmission of the more transmissible Omicron variant.  Boosters have been available in California since September 2021. 

Although COVID-19 vaccination remains effective in preventing severe disease, recent data suggest vaccination becomes less effective over time at preventing infection or milder illness with symptoms, especially in people aged 65 years and older. 

Based on the emergence of Omicron, additional statewide facility-directed measures are necessary to ensure we maintain adequate staffing levels within our healthcare delivery system.  Additionally, given the current hospital census, even a moderate surge in cases and hospitalizations could materially impact California's health care delivery system within certain regions of the state.  Accordingly, amendments to the original State Public Health Officer Order of August 19, 2021, to make boosters mandatory and to require additional testing of workers eligible for boosters who are not yet boosted are necessary at this critical time.   

I, as State Public Health Officer of the State of California, order: 

1. All individuals in section (2) below must have their first dose of a one-dose regimen or their second dose of a two-dose regimen by October 14, 2021: 

a. Two-dose vaccines include: Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna or vaccine authorized by the World Health Organization. The one-dose vaccine is: Johnson and Johnson [J&J]/Janssen. All COVID-19 vaccines that are currently authorized for emergency use can be found at the following links: 

i. By the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), are listed at the FDA COVID-19 Vaccines webpage

ii. By the World Health Organization (WHO), are listed at the WHO COVID-19 Vaccines webpage

2. The following workers are subject to the requirements of this Order: 

a. All paid and unpaid individuals who are regularly assigned to provide health care or health care services to inmates, prisoners, or detainees. This may include nurses, nursing assistants, nurse practitioners, physicians, physician assistants, technicians, therapists, phlebotomists, pharmacists, mental health providers, students and trainees, dietary, and contractual staff not employed by the correctional facility or detention center. 

b. All paid and unpaid individuals who are regularly assigned to work within hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, intermediate care facilities, or the equivalent that are integrated into the correctional facility or detention center in areas where health care is provided. This includes workers providing health care to inmates, prisoners, and detainees, as well as persons not directly involved in delivering health care, but who could be exposed to infectious agents that can be transmitted in the health care setting (e.g., clerical, dietary, janitorial services, laundry, correctional officers, facilities maintenance staff, administrative, inmate workers, and volunteer personnel). 

3. All workers currently eligible for boosters, who provide services or work in facilities described in section (2) must 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 below.  

Table A: 
California Immunization Requirements for Covered Workers 

COVID-19 VaccinePrimary vaccination seriesWhen to get the vaccine booster doseWhich vaccine booster dose to receive
Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech1st and 2nd dosesBooster dose 6 mos after 2nd 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]/Janssen1st doseBooster dose 2 mos after 1st 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 6 mos 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 6 mos after getting all recommended dosesSingle booster dose of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine

a. Those workers currently eligible for booster doses per the Table above must receive their booster dose by no later than March 1, 2022.[i] Workers who provide proof of COVID-19 infection after completion of their primary series [ii] may defer booster administration for up to 90 days from date of first positive test or clinical diagnosis, which in some situations, may extend the booster dose requirement beyond March 1st.  Workers not yet eligible for boosters must be in compliance no later than 15 days after the recommended timeframe above for receiving the booster dose. Workers with a deferral due to a proven COVID-19 infection must be in compliance no later than 15 days after the expiration of their deferral.  

4. Workers in section (2) may be exempt from the vaccination requirements under section (1) only upon providing the operator of the correctional facility or detention center a declination form, signed by the individual stating either of the following: (1) the worker is declining vaccination based on religious beliefs, or (2) the worker is excused from receiving any COVID-19 vaccine due to Qualifying Medical Reasons. 

a. To be eligible for a Qualified Medical Reasons exemption the worker must also provide to their employer a written statement signed by a physician, nurse practitioner, or other licensed medical professional practicing under the license of a physician stating that the individual qualifies for the exemption (but the statement should not describe the underlying medical condition or disability) and indicating the probable duration of the worker's inability to receive the vaccine (or if the duration is unknown or permanent, so indicate). 

5. If an operator of a correctional facility or detention center deems a worker to have met the requirements of an exemption pursuant to section (4), OR deems a booster-eligible worker to have not yet received their booster dose pursuant to section (3), the worker must meet the following requirements when entering or working in such facility: 

a. Test for COVID-19 with either PCR or antigen test that either has Emergency Use Authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or be operating per the Laboratory Developed Test requirements by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Testing must occur twice weekly for unvaccinated exempt workers and booster-eligible workers who have not yet received their booster, in acute health care and long-term care settings, and at least once weekly for such workers in other health care settings. Facilities must begin testing of all booster-eligible workers who have not yet received their booster by December 27, 2021.  CDPH strongly recommends that all workers in Skilled Nursing Facilities (including those that are fully vaccinated and boosted) undergo at least twice weekly screening testing.   

b. Wear a surgical mask or higher-level respirator approved by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), such as an N95 filtering facepiece respirator, at all times while in the facility. 

6. Consistent with applicable privacy laws and regulations, the operator of the correctional facility or detention center must maintain records of workers' vaccination or exemption status. If the worker is exempt pursuant to section (4), the operator of the correctional facility or detention center then also must maintain records of the workers' testing results pursuant to section (5). 

a. The correctional facility or detention center must provide such records to the local or state Public Health Officer or their designee promptly upon request, and in any event no later than the next business day after receiving the request. 

b. Operators of correctional facility or detention center facilities subject to this Order must maintain records pursuant to the CDPH Guidance for Vaccine Records Guidelines & Standards with the following information: (1) full name and date of birth; (2) vaccine manufacturer; and (3) date of vaccine administration (for first dose and, if applicable, second dose). 

c. For unvaccinated workers: signed declination forms with written health care provider's statement where applicable, as described in section (4) above. Testing records pursuant to section (5) must be maintained. 

7. Nothing in this Order limits otherwise applicable requirements related to Personal Protective Equipment, personnel training, and infection control policies and practices. 

8. Facilities covered by this Order are encouraged to provide onsite vaccinations, easy access to nearby vaccinations,  use of work time to get vaccinated, and education and outreach on vaccinations, including: 

a. access to epidemiologists, physicians, and other counselors who can answer questions or concerns related to vaccinations and provide culturally sensitive advice; and 

b. access to online resources providing up to date information on COVID-19 science and research. 


9. The July 26 Public Health Order will continue to apply. 

10. This Order shall take effect on December 22, 2021, and facilities must be in compliance with the Order by February 1, 2022, with the exception of the deadlines set forth in section 2.a, which facilities must comply with as written. 

11. The terms of this Order supersede the August 19, 2021 State and Local Correctional Facilities and Detention Centers Health Care Worker Vaccination Requirement 

12. This Order is issued pursuant to Health and Safety Code sections 120125, 120140, 120175,120195 and 131080 and other applicable law. 

Tomas Aragon Signature

Tomás J. Aragón, MD, DrPH
Director and State Public Health Officer
California Department of Public Health

[i] On January 25, 2022, this deadline for booster doses was updated 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. For instance, impacted persons were unable to get boosted while ill. Further, there are critical staffing shortages in some areas and additional flexibility is needed due to the fact that boosting can cause missed time from work due to side effects related to receiving booster doses.

[ii] To provide proof of prior infection, workers must provide documentation of previous diagnosis from a healthcare provider or confirmed laboratory results.