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LA County Is One Step Closer To Mandatory Vaccines For Its 110,000 Employees

An image of a health worker wearing blue rubber gloves administering a shot to a patient who is helping raise the right sleeve of her green blouse.
L.A. County plans to issue an order mandating vaccinations for emergency medical technicians and paramedics, home health workers and dental practice employees.
(Chava Sanchez
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Los Angeles County officials on Tuesday solidified COVID-19 vaccination requirements for county employees.

The board of supervisors unanimously approved the executive order issued by Chair Hilda Solis last week, requiring all L.A. County employees to be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus by Oct. 1.

The policy applies to all the county’s 110,000 employees, including the sheriff’s and fire departments.

“Our employees provide essential services to some of the most vulnerable residents in our county,” Solis said at the meeting.”By getting vaccinated, our employees not only protect their own lives, and that of their families and coworkers, but also significantly reduce the risk of transmission to residents that we serve.”

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Testing For Employees Who Are Exempt

Another motion, also passed unanimously by the board, directs the county CEO’s office to come back within 15 days with an implementation plan for the vaccine mandate that will address testing for people with qualifying medical or religious exemptions, and whether contractors will also be covered under the vaccine mandate.

“We need to return ... with a comprehensive plan to make sure that we are implementing the board's vision by having this mandatory vaccination requirement, and then work out all of the logistical details that are required to implement such a program countywide,” said Fesia Davenport, L.A. County chief executive officer.

Davenport told board members they have set up a schedule to speak with bargaining units. When Solis issued her executive order last week, the Association of Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs said it would assert its bargaining rights over her decision. And SEIU 721, the union that represents about 55,000 county workers, indicated it wants a testing option for its members who can not, or choose not to, be vaccinated.

The county's executive order is a stricter reaction than one issued last month by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti for the city’s 50,000 employees. That policy, similar to the state’s order, falls short of a vaccine mandate, offering employees the option of undergoing weekly COVID-19 testing instead of providing proof of vaccination.

Proof Of COVID-19 Vaccination For Indoor Spaces In Some LA County Areas

The board also instructed staff to report back on the feasibility of requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccinations in order for people to enter indoor spaces such as restaurants and movie theaters.

If the board passes such an ordinance, it would only apply to unincorporated areas of the county. But if the L.A. County health department issues an order to that effect, it would apply throughout the county.

Last Wednesday Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez and Councilman Mitch O’Farrell introduced a motion that would require people who are eligible for the vaccinations to demonstrate that they’ve received at least one dose to visit indoor places such as restaurants, bars, stores, movie theaters, stadiums and concert venues.

Supervisor Janice Hahn, who introduced the county motion, asked that the report consider whether a mandate should require one dose or full vaccination, and whether the policy should apply to all indoor public spaces.

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“I feel like we're at a place now that we need to look at actions to correct course,” Hahn said. “I think all of us have been extremely frustrated and disappointed at what we're seeing as a new surge.”

During her COVID-19 update to the board, L.A. County health director Barbara Ferrer said the county would issue an order this week, mandating vaccinations for emergency medical technicians and paramedics, home health workers and dental practice employees.

Ferrer said the order encompasses health-related jobs that were left out of a similar statewide vaccine mandate for health workers, requiring them to be fully vaccinated by Sept. 30.

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