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EMPLOYERS SHOULD ENCOURAGE, USE ALL TOOLS AVAILABLE TO HAVE EMPLOYEES VACCINATED
Rigorously tested, safe vaccines drive down infections, hospitalizations and deaths

Berkeley, California (Wednesday, August 11, 2021) - The City of Berkeley's Health Officer strongly recommends that employers use all tools they have available to increase workplace COVID-19 vaccinations - actions the City plans to model by mandating vaccination for its more than 1,500 employees.   

Even as cases rise due to the highly-contagious Delta variant, the three rigorously-tested and FDA-authorized vaccines make people far less likely to get infected and also offer much greater protection against sickness, hospitalization, and death.

"Vaccines are already keeping workers, patrons and visitors safer and lowering the risk of outbreaks," said Dr. Lisa Hernandez, the City of Berkeley Health Officer. "Increasing vaccinations in any workplace will strengthen its ability to stay open and keep employees healthy. Mandating vaccination and verifying proof of vaccination in the workplace is a best practice and I recommend it."

Federal, state laws support employer mandates for COVID-19 health

Federal and state agencies overseeing workplace rights allow employers to mandate:    

  • COVID-19 vaccination
  • viral testing
  • protective equipment designed to reduce infection
  • asking symptom status
  • sending employees home when exhibiting COVID-19 status

Federal and state law provide very limited exemptions from vaccination such as those for medical conditions and sincerely held religious beliefs.

For more information, see guidance from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing and the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel.              

To verify vaccination, the City Health Officer recommends documenting COVID-19 vaccination through vaccine cards or the state's digital vaccine registry rather than self-attestation. 

COVID-19 poses particular workplace risks

Workplaces bring together people from a variety of different households often in an indoor setting, an environment that increases the urgency for vaccines.

An essential protection for all is a face covering, which is already required in indoor public settings and workplaces in Berkeley, the rest of Alameda County, and six other Bay Area counties.

In those cases where a vaccinated person gets infected with the Delta variant, vaccines strongly protect them from severe illness, hospitalization, and death.

State guidelines require an unvaccinated employee to quarantine for at least 10 days if exposed to someone who tested positive. By contrast, a fully vaccinated worker would not need to quarantine unless they have symptoms.

"Vaccines continue to guide us, including though this tricky phase of the pandemic," said Dr. Hernandez, the City of Berkeley Health Officer. "Employers that use COVID-19 safeguards are more likely to stay open, especially those with high rates of vaccination among employees."

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