California is mandating that all health care workers get a COVID-19 booster shot, making it the second state to expand its vaccine mandate as the omicron variant spreads across the country.
“With Omicron on the rise, we’re taking immediate actions to protect Californians and ensure our hospitals are prepared,” Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, tweeted Tuesday evening.
Newsom said details of the mandate would come later in an official announcement. California was the first state to require COVID-19 vaccines for health care workers, and that initial mandate increased vaccination rates above 90% in the state’s major health systems.
Meanwhile, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, a Democrat, proposed a booster mandate for all city employees, which would make it the first California city with such a requirement. The measure will need city council approval to be enacted.
California’s move follows New Mexico, which issued a booster mandate early this month for state employees, health care workers and school workers. Health officials there said they saw “incontrovertible” signs of waning immunity over time from the first vaccine series, making boosters essential to protect against ongoing waves of COVID-19 variants.
Many governors said earlier this month that they were not actively considering adding a booster shot to their state vaccine mandates. Newsom’s office did not respond to a request for comment at that time.
But a fast-growing number of universities and private sector employers have begun requiring boosters for workers and students. Duke University, the University of Michigan and the University of California system are among the schools that have recently issued booster mandates as case numbers climb.
The National Football League, The Washington Post and the Metropolitan Opera in New York have all mandated boosters for employees this month.
“[N]othing will save more lives and get the country back to normal more quickly than a massive effort to quickly boost tens of millions more eligible people with a third shot,” wrote Andy Slavitt, a former White House senior adviser on coronavirus response, in an op-ed in The Washington Post earlier this week.
“Businesses, sports leagues, colleges, hospitals and schools should require anyone who risks exposing others to have that third shot.”