Workplaces should consider requiring COVID-19 vaccine, Bay Area health officials say

Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — Some local Bay Area health officials say employers should consider requiring their employees get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Officials in Contra Costa, Santa Clara and San Francisco counties are supporting the idea amid increasing COVID-19 cases among unvaccinated residents, plus reported ‘breakthrough’ cases in fully vaccinated people.

The requirement could come with “very limited exceptions” for medical and religious reasons, Contra Costa Health Services added.

Several benefits arise from requiring the COVID-19 vaccination, the health services said. In San Francisco, this includes not having to force unvaccinated employees who were possibly exposed to COVID-19 to quarantine for 10 days.

“Workers who are unvaccinated against COVID-19 pose a substantial health and financial risk to the workplace,” said Dr. Chris Farnitano, Contra Costa County’s health officer. “Most importantly, workplace exposures have led to serious illnesses and deaths.”

Officials recommend workplaces document proof by checking COVID-19 vaccination cards.

“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.”

Employees who are not fully vaccinated are also required to wear face masks in the office.

Contra Costa Health Services said current state 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.

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