Democratic California lawmakers introduced a bill that would require employees and independent contractors to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
Under the bill, new employees would have to get at least one dose by the time they start work and the second dose within 45 days of being on the job. Employees or contractors who qualify for medical or religious exemptions would have to be regularly tested.
The bill was introduced by Assemblywoman Buffy Wicks after delaying an original proposal last fall, which would have allowed workers to submit to weekly testing as an alternative to getting vaccinated. That is no longer an option.
According to Wicks and other supporters, the mandate is necessary despite the state gradually transitioning into its “endemic” phase that accepts the coronavirus is here to stay but is manageable as immunity builds.
The mandate would stay in place unless the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention deems it is no longer necessary. The bill has support from the Small Business Majority advocacy group that has 85,000 members nationwide, including nearly 20,000 in California.
"Small businesses don't want to be traffic cops in debates about public safety," said John Arensmeyer, the group's chief executive. "They're looking for a common statewide standard that disentangles them from politics and enables them to operate their businesses safely and predictably."
State health and occupational safety officials will advise employers what qualifies as a medical condition, disability, religious belief, and valid vaccination status under the bill. Those that do not comply would be subject to penalties that have yet to be determined.
Several lawmakers have established legislation on the implementation of COVID-19 vaccines.
Last year, Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered all of the state’s nearly 2.2 million health care workers to be vaccinated at the expense of their job.
State employees and teachers were mandated to receive their vaccinations or submit to weekly testing.
Last Month, Sen. Scott Wiener introduced a bill that would allow children 12 and up to be vaccinated without their parents' consent, while Sen. Richard Pan would eliminate a personal belief exemption in school-based COVID-19 vaccination requirements.