California Allows Health Care Workers To Defer Mandated Booster Shot Based on Recent Infection

On February 22, 2022, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced that vaccinated health care workers with documented recent infection will be allowed to defer booster shot by up to 90 days from infection.

This February 22 order is the CDPH’s most recent amendment to its orders on August 5 and December 22, 2021, which require California health care workers to become fully vaccinated and boosted by March 1, 2022, unless exempt. This vaccination and booster mandate remains in effect, but the February 22 amendment allows workers with proof of recent infection to delay receiving a booster by up to 90 days from the date of infection. To explain the newest change allowing deferral of boosters, the CDPH stated: “there is immunological data suggesting that allowing an adequate interval between an infection and a COVID-19 vaccination dose may be important to allow quality immune memory.”

Impacted Workers

The CDPH orders apply to any individual working, whether unpaid or paid, in an indoor setting where care is provided to patients or patients have access for any purpose. This could include workers who are not directly employed by the facility where they provide care. To defer a required booster shot based on a recent infection, a worker must provide documentation of a previous diagnosis from a healthcare provider or confirmed laboratory results that include the date of infection.

Impacted Facilities

The CDPH orders impact all of the following health care facilities:

  • General Acute Care Hospitals
  • Skilled Nursing Facilities (including Subacute Facilities)
  • Intermediate Care Facilities
  • Acute Psychiatric Hospitals
  • Adult Day Health Care Centers
  • Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) and PACE Centers
  • Ambulatory Surgery Centers
  • Chemical Dependency Recovery Hospitals
  • Clinics & Doctor Offices (including behavioral health, surgical)
  • Congregate Living Health Facilities
  • Dialysis Centers
  • Hospice Facilities
  • Pediatric Day Health and Respite Care Facilities
  • Residential Substance Use Treatment and Mental Health Treatment Facilities

Impacted facilities must verify and keep a record of vaccination status or test results. See the CDPH Guidance for Vaccine Records Guidelines & Standards for more information.

Exempt Workers

Health care workers may apply for exemptions from the vaccination and booster mandate based on a religious or qualifying medical reason. Exempt workers must submit to COVID-19 testing at least twice weekly. However, under the February 22 order, exempt workers that have recovered from a diagnosis of COVID-19 in the last 90 days and remained asymptomatic are not required to submit to testing until after 90 days have expired.


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