On September 17, the California Department of Public Health ended the COVID-19 testing mandate for unvaccinated healthcare workers and others in high-risk settings, which include dental offices.
Unvaccinated dentists and their staff have complied with the state’s public health order requiring vaccination or weekly testing since full compliance began on August 23, 2021. Dental staff who did not provide a proof of vaccination against COVID-19 had to perform a weekly test and submit proof of a negative test to their employer.
Dentist employers had monitoring and documentation obligations under the state mandate. CDA members have utilized resources during this time to facilitate compliance, including self-certification of CDA employee immunization status, a weekly employee testing tracking form, and forms for requesting and documenting vaccination exemptions.
Other high-risk healthcare settings that are no longer subject to the weekly or bi-weekly testing requirement include, but are not limited to, medical offices, general acute care hospitals, skilled nursing facilities , acute psychiatric facilities and homeless shelters.
Although the state order has been lifted, some cities and counties continue to mandate weekly COVID-19 testing. Employers should follow the strictest order, whether federal, state or local, and should check with their local health department to ensure compliance.
Vaccination coverage “high among workers in high-risk settings”
The state news release announcing the end of the July 21, 2021 public health order notes the high vaccination rate among workers in high-risk settings. CDA’s own survey conducted in May-June 2021 showed that 94% of California dentists had been vaccinated against COVID-19.
The different behavior of the omicron subvariants – primarily their increased transmissibility even among vaccinated, boosted and previously infected individuals – also influenced the CDPH’s decision to rescind the vaccination or testing mandate.
“Mandatory testing of the small number of unvaccinated workers does not effectively prevent disease transmission as with the original COVID-19 virus and earlier variants earlier in the pandemic,” the CDPH said. “Therefore, as long as COVID-19 remains with us, I rescind the July 26, 2021 State Public Health Officer Order effective September 17, 2022,” the public health officer wrote. of State.
Employers encouraged to continue to promote vaccination, screening
As weekly testing requirements come to an end, the CDPH encourages employers to continue providing testing resources to staff to slow the spread of COVID-19 in communities, observing that “vaccination and testing are two key measures that help mitigate the spread of COVID-19, such as masking and improved indoor ventilation.
Dentists can continue to use CDA’s Vaccine Confidence Toolkit resources to administer rapid tests in their practice, manage employees, and discuss vaccine safety and effectiveness with their patients. Just last week, with the help of a CDPH grant, CDA released new infographics, immunization talking points, sample social media posts, and other resources at specifically use in dental practices.
Additionally, California dentists and other employers can still choose to require their employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Member dentists can use CDA’s Sample Immunization Policy, which includes instructions and considerations for employers, including circumstances in which employees may be exempt from compliance.
Masking, screening and reporting requirements continue in dental practices
Dentists and their staff, as well as patients and visitors to dental offices and other health care facilities in California, should continue to wear face masks, and employers should provide properly fitted respirators to personnel involved in the aerosol-generating procedures. Cal/OSHA requires the use of respirators during such procedures in dental and medical settings.
Dental offices must also continue to screen patients for COVID-19, as required by Cal/OSHA.
CDA has an FAQ on masking and screening requirements and an article with detailed information on continuing reporting and return-to-work requirements under the current Cal/OSHA COVID-19 temporary emergency standards that are ending. the 31st of December.
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