Santa Clara health officials urge employers to require vaccinations

Health officers representing Santa Clara, San Francisco and Contra Costa counties are urging employers to consider requiring that their workers are fully vaccinated.

In a joint statement, the health officials for the three counties cited rising COVID-19 cases, including the rapid spread of the Delta variant, as “leaving unvaccinated individuals at risk for serious illness and death.” Local and national data “show that fully vaccinated people are far less likely to catch COVID-19 or require hospitalization than people who are unvaccinated,” the health officers said.

The recommendation suggests that employers require proof of vaccination from employees rather than self-attestation, and further states that California and federal employment law “support employers requiring documentation of vaccination status, requiring vaccination as a condition of employment, and requiring additional safety precautions including masking and frequent testing for employees who are unvaccinated.”

“Employers can play a critical role in ensuring a safe workplace environment and boosting vaccination rates among working-age individuals by requiring vaccination as a condition of employment, with very limited exceptions for medical exemptions or strongly held religious beliefs,” the health officers said.

Employees not fully vaccinated are legally required to wear masks and employers should require frequent COVID-19 testing of unvaccinated employees, they added.

“Eight months since the first COVID-19 vaccine was administered, COVID-19 vaccines have proven to be highly effective, and very safe, and are the most important tool we have for preventing COVID-19 illness, hospitalizations, and deaths,” said Dr. Sara Cody, Health Officer and Director of Public Health for the County of Santa Clara. “We encourage employers to take strong action to promote COVID-19 safe workplaces through vaccination and other workplace safety requirements.”