The California Department of Public Health is ending COVID-19 policies that require weekly testing for unvaccinated individuals in high-risk workplaces and schools. 

State health officials made the announcement last week to “better align with state COVID-19 guidance with the most current federal recommendations,” the department wrote in a news release. The change took effect on Sept. 17. 

Health care facilities, other congregate settings, and schools will no longer be required to administer weekly COVID-19 testing of unvaccinated and under-vaccinated workers. Vaccination and booster requirements for employees in healthcare, correctional health, and adult residential settings will remain the same. 

According to CDPH Director and State Public Health officer Dr. Tomás Aragón, these changes come as most people in these work settings are vaccinated. 

“Our youngest Californians are eligible for vaccination too, which protects all of our communities against severe illness, hospitalization, and death," said Dr. Aragón. "While unvaccinated individuals remain at greatest risk of serious health consequences from COVID-19 infection, weekly testing of unvaccinated groups is no longer slowing the spread as it did earlier in the pandemic due to the more infectious Omicron variants." 

While this precautionary measure is no longer required, state public health leaders continue to urge all individuals to stay up-to-date on the COVID-19 vaccine. Employers and schools are encouraged to continue providing testing resources to staff and students. 

The department said it expects to receive more than 1 million doses of the bivalent booster, which were developed to generate an immune response from the original COVID-19 virus, and from BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants. The Omicron variants are still causing the majority of new COVID-19 infections in the San Diego Region. 

The Pfizer/BioNTech bivalent booster is available for people 12 and older. Moderna bivalent boosters are authorized for those 18 and older but are not readily available in the region as the county awaits additional vaccines from the state. The bivalent boosters have not yet been authorized for children under the age of 12. Youths in that age group can get boosted with the previous version of the Pfizer vaccine.

San Diegans must be fully vaccinated with the primary series of one of the approved COVID-19 vaccines before receiving a bivalent booster. Anyone who wants to get a bivalent booster must wait at least eight weeks after they received a previous COVID-19 vaccine until they are eligible.

Anyone who is fully vaccinated and recently tested positive for COVID-19 should wait three months after infection to get a bivalent booster.

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