Sonoma County issues booster requirement for certain workers

School employees, firefighters, emergency medical workers, police officers, pharmacy and dental office workers and temporary disaster shelter operators in Sonoma County will be required to get a COVID-19 booster when eligible under a pair of orders issued Thursday by the county's health officer.   

The requirements are an expansion of the county's requirement since Sept. 7 that all county employees be fully vaccinated against the virus or get tested regularly.  

Workers in the affected industries will be required to get a COVID-19 booster vaccination if they are eligible or test for the virus at least twice weekly if they are unvaccinated or until they have completed their required vaccinations.   

The orders, one applying specifically to TK-12 school staff and faculty and the other applying to the other industries, will both take effect at 12:01 a.m. Feb. 1, 2022.  

"With variants circulating locally and COVID-19 cases increasing, it is essential that our frontline workers have all the protection available to them," county Health Officer Dr. Sundari Mase said in a statement.   

Mase's orders come as health officials across the Bay Area have expressed concern over the potential for a significant spike in cases due to the highly contagious omicron variant.   

Sonoma County confirmed its first omicron case Dec. 16. Statewide, 460 cases of the variant have been confirmed as of Wednesday.   

Early research has found that while the omicron variant may or may not be less likely than previous variants to cause serious illness, a booster vaccine dose is likely necessary to maintain an effective immune response to the virus.   

Boosters are recommended for people age 16 and up who got their second Pfizer or Moderna vaccine dose at least six months ago or those who got their single Johnson & Johnson vaccine at least two months ago.   

According to county data, 76 percent of Sonoma County residents age 5 and up have completed their initial vaccination series. In addition, 46 percent of booster-eligible residents have received an additional vaccine dose.   

County residents are encouraged to visit for information on where to get a COVID-19 vaccine or tested for the virus.