Proof of vaccination required for emergency personnel in Sonoma County

Health officials with Sonoma County on Wednesday say they will require emergency workers to show proof of COVID vaccination or submit to weekly testing starting September 1. 

The latest development in the ongoing pandemic was announced in a press release where officials said COVID cases in the county are at their highest rates since February. 

The health order applies to all fire, law enforcement and emergency medical service workers and staff at disaster shelters. They will be required show proof of vaccination. The order expands California Department of Public Health's order that requires health care and congregate facility staff to be vaccinated or tested if unvaccinated. 

With a rise in COVID cases and hospitalizations, the county is encouraging employers to do the same.  On August 17, county staff will present a policy to the board of supervisors for consideration. The policy extends the vaccine or testing requirements to all 4,470 county workers. 

"By requiring County employees to get vaccinated or undergo weekly testing, we are setting an example for other employers to follow," said Dr. Sundari Mase the county health officer said. "The vaccine is safe, effective, free and needed now more than ever. The Delta variant is a much more aggressive and contagious form of COVID and is at the root of much of our recent surge in cases. The vaccine is the best tool that we have to combat it."

The new health order has the support of Sonoma County Sheriff Mark Essick. "Our personnel is at higher risk of exposure to COVID because of their work environment and the people they serve. It is important for them to be monitored and protected so they can stay healthy," Essick said.  

The majority of new COVID cases in Sonoma County are among those who have not been vaccinated, officials said. 

Sonoma County hospitals currently have 61 COVID patients, 21 of which are in intensive care. 70% of the county's eligible population is considered fully vaccinated.