With concerns about the nationwide Omicron variant of COVID-19, San Jose is on the verge of becoming the first city in California to make booster vaccinations a mandatory requirement for vaccination.
San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo announced the proposal on Tuesday. If approved by the City Council, all San Jose City employees would be required to receive a booster as a condition of their employment, and any residents or visitors entering city-owned facilities would do the same.
“To avoid crippling hospital admissions and tragic consequences, we have the great advantage of having general access to booster injections, but we don’t have the time,” Liccardo said in a statement. “We have to take decisive action to protect our workforce and our community, and a booster mandate will help.”
San Jose already requires proof of full vaccination at all city-owned facilities. Vaccinations are mandatory in a variety of indoor stores in Los Angeles, including restaurants, movie theaters, hair and nail salons, gyms, and museums. But no city in California is in need of the third round of vaccinations, which experts are increasingly saying can protect people from the swelling COVID-19 wave.
“Rather than waiting for the inevitable but arduous revision of the official definition of ‘fully vaccinated’ by federal and state bureaucracies, we should take steps to protect our community with information that is clearly made available to us and approved by Dr. [Anthony] Fauci and other respected authorities, ”Liccardo wrote in the proposal.
Its announcement comes as Omicron rushes ahead of other variants to become the dominant strain of coronavirus in the United States. Federal officials said Monday that 73% of new infections last week were due to them.
Even in California – where a relatively high 67% of residents are fully vaccinated – officials are increasingly concerned about large numbers of unvaccinated people who they say are most susceptible to the variant and at the highest risk of being hospitalized become and die.
California officials made mask mandatory statewide this month as cases soared; the mandate is expected to expire on January 15th.
Liccardo’s proposal adds him to a growing list of officials weighing mandatory booster vaccinations, including New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Graham, who issued booster vaccinations for many government employees earlier this month.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said in December he was considering the idea of mandatory boosters for indoor gatherings.
Boston University officials said this week that starting February, boosters will be required for all students, faculty, and staff.
University of California officials also announced on Tuesday that all eligible students and staff must receive a booster vaccination before the winter quarter or spring semester begins.
San Jose, located in Santa Clara County, is the tenth largest city in the United States and has a population of more than 1 million.
Santa Clara County public health officials appeared to agree with Liccardo’s views during a press conference last week, saying two shots were “not enough”.
“When I look around the corner, I see a flood of omicron – what I see may be one of the toughest moments we’ve had in the pandemic,” said Sara Cody, Santa Clara County’s health officer, adding, ” I really cannot underline the critical importance of booster shots enough. “
In his proposal, Liccardo instructs the city manager to work with the San Jose negotiating groups to establish the January booster, one of the vaccine’s temporary side effects.
Vaccinations are the “only way to avoid widespread closures and full emergency rooms,” the proposal reads, noting that “even a relatively low serious illness rate applied to a very large denominator of infections is every urban.” Can paralyze the health system ”.
The proposal also calls on officials to report on any software or equipment updates that would allow faster and less labor-intensive checking of vaccination status at the entrance of city facilities and to provide on-site vaccination clinic support for workers who may be living in high-risk or low-income neighborhoods .
Exceptions to the mandate would be people who have received their second dose of vaccine within the last six months, as well as minors who are not eligible.
The current rules for religious exceptions and sanctions for non-compliance would remain in force, according to the proposal.
The proposal will be heard by the city’s regulatory committee on January 5th.