California Sets Feb. 1 Deadline For All Health Care Workers To Receive COVID-19 Booster

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California’s roughly 2.5 million well being care staff have till Feb. 1 to get a coronavirus vaccine booster shot or danger shedding their jobs, Gov. Gavin Newsom stated Wednesday.

Newsom gave extra particulars on the booster mandate throughout a Wednesday information convention at a vaccine clinic in Oakland. He had initially introduced the brand new rule on Tuesday afternoon.

California was the primary state to require well being care staff to be vaccinated, a rule that took impact in September. Most staff have complied. But hundreds of others have both lost their jobs or been suspended.

Now, California joins New Mexico as at the least the second state to require a booster shot for its well being care staff. Also this week, two of the nation’s largest public college techniques — California State University and the University of California — introduced college students will need to have a booster shot for the spring semester.

California additionally requires different teams to both be vaccinated or undergo weekly testing, together with state staff and, ultimately, academics and college students. But Newsom stated Wednesday there isn’t any plan to require these different teams to get a booster shot.

Instead, he stated California would offer as much as two take-home coronavirus check kits for every of the state’s greater than 6.1 million public college college students whereas additionally increasing hours on the 6,288 state-run testing facilities.

However, Newsom stated guidelines about booster pictures may change.

“Hopefully we won’t have to consider that if all of our interventions are successful,” Newsom stated.

California is doing so much higher in comparison with different states when it comes to the virus’ unfold. Of everybody examined for the virus in California, simply 3.3% check optimistic — the bottom rate within the nation, Newsom stated. California has the sixth-lowest case rate, with 13.6 new instances for each 100,000 individuals over seven days.

As of Tuesday, California had 3,589 coronavirus sufferers within the hospital, a 12% improve since Dec. 1. But that’s far lower than the height of final winter’s surge, when the state had almost 22,000 coronavirus sufferers again earlier than vaccines have been extensively out there. Today, greater than 70% of California’s roughly 40 million residents are absolutely vaccinated.

Much concerning the omicron coronavirus variant stays unknown, together with whether or not it causes roughly extreme sickness. Scientists say omicron spreads even simpler than different coronavirus strains, together with delta. Early research recommend the vaccinated will want a booster shot for the most effective probability at stopping an omicron an infection however even with out the additional dose, vaccination nonetheless ought to supply robust safety in opposition to extreme sickness and loss of life.

Federal officers stated Monday omicron is now the most typical type of the virus within the U.S., accounting for 73% of all instances. In California, state officers estimate omicron accounts for about half of instances, however Newsom stated the true quantity is probably going a lot increased and can be launched on Thursday.

California reported greater than 10,900 new instances on Tuesday. On Wednesday, Los Angeles County — the nation’s most populous with almost 10 million residents — reported greater than 6,500 new instances, greater than double the quantity from Tuesday. Local well being officers stated the county may have greater than 20,000 instances per day by the top of the year.

Barbara Ferrer, the county’s public well being director, stated officers are usually not contemplating any booster necessities past the state’s new guidelines for well being care staff. More than 2 million residents in Los Angeles County who’re over the age of 5 stay unvaccinated. And 62% of residents who’re eligible to obtain a booster shot haven’t achieved so.

Statewide, greater than 8.8 million Californians have gotten a booster shot to date.

“We need to increase that number if we’re going to hold the line and decrease the growth for hospitals,” Newsom stated.

While hospitals have far fewer coronavirus sufferers than they did a year in the past, most are scuffling with a scarcity of well being care staff. A latest examine by the University of California, San Francisco estimated a statewide nursing scarcity would persist till at the least 2026.

A brand new mandate for booster pictures may persuade extra staff to give up. But the California Hospital Association on Wednesday stated it supported the brand new rule “to further protect health care workers and hospital patients.”

“While we don’t yet know enough about Omicron to determine its precise impact on the need for hospital care, we do know that booster shots offer an additional layer of protection — something that will be vital to ensuring care for all in need as California and the nation as a whole continue to face a persistent shortage of health care workers,” California Hospital Association President and CEO Carmela Coyle stated.

The California Nurses Association stated it’s reviewing the brand new booster mandate for well being care staff. In a information launch, the group stated it strongly helps everybody getting vaccinated whereas respecting medical and non secular exemptions. But they stated different measures are wanted to guard well being care staff.

“Science shows that a multiple-measures approach to infection control is the most effective, and vaccination is just one, albeit critical, component,” the group stated in a information launch calling for extra personal protecting tools and correct staffing ranges at hospitals.

Associated Press Reporter Stefanie Dazio contributed reporting from Los Angeles.

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