Mayor Muriel Bowser and DC Health Director LaQuandra Nesbitt announced that by Sept. 30, 2021 all health care workers in the District of Columbia must receive at least the first dose of Pfizer or Moderna or one dose of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.
The news comes as the COVIDdaily case rate reaches 21.3 —double this time last year— and transmission is up to 1.52 new cases for every one reported.
Nesbitt said that the increased case rate is primarily driven by people who are not vaccinated and is largest among people 18 to 40 years old.
37 percent of the lives lost since May were people under the age of 60.
45 people have died since May and none were fully vaccinated, Nesbitt added. 96 percent of the people who have died of COVID since May were Black.
This requirement applies to:
- All licensed, certified and registered health professionals;
- All EMS providers such as paramedics and emergency medical technicians (EMTs); and
- All unlicensed healthcare workers (i.e. patient care technicians, personal care aides, environmental services staff).
The mandate is designed to prevent outbreaks in hospitals and personal care homes, sites of high levels of transmission at the start of the pandemic.
“As we continue to see a rise in the numbers of positive cases among unvaccinated persons across the city, it is necessary that we ensure all health care workers in the District are vaccinated to decrease the spread of COVID-19,” said Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt, Director of DC Health. “This new mandate can reduce the likelihood of a COVID-19 outbreak in healthcare settings and among vulnerable populations.”
Nesbitt said that the authority of DC Health to mandate vaccines for other private sector employees, such as taxi drivers, is less clear than for health care works. However, she said that private businesses have the aurthority to require COVID vaccines for employees and for customers or for use of services. “The more employers that move in that direction, the higher we will see our vaccination rate grow,” Nesbitt said.
Two doses of the Pfizer vaccine or the Moderna vaccine, or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, are required:
(a) before the date of submission of an application for licensure, certification, or registration;
(b) on the date of submission of an application for renewal of licensure, registration, or certification;
(c) before beginning employment or a contractual relationship if not required to have a license, certification, or registration; or
(d) on or before a date specified by the Department of Health in written or electronic correspondence to the person.
Health care professionals may be exempt due to religious beliefs or medical conditions. While the government has not provided a mechanism for testing as an alternative, individual employers are likely to do so.
An alternative to the mandate is required while the vaccine is under Emergency Use Authorization (EUA), Nesbitt said. Once it is fully approved by the FDA, only religious and medical exemptions would be required.
See the full August 16 situational update at coronavirus.dc.gov