San Rafael, CA – Marin County personnel in the fields of law enforcement, firefighting, and emergency medical response must be fully vaccinated and boosted to work in Marin County’s higher-risk settings, according to a new Marin County health order taking effect at 12:01 a.m. on February 10.
Marin County first responders were first eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine in December 2020.
Unvaccinated first responders will need to receive their first dose of the COVID vaccine by March 1 and complete their primary series no later than April 15. In addition, personnel will need to be up-to-date with a booster shot within 15 days of becoming booster-eligible to continue working in higher-risk settings and interact with the public. Starting April 15, unvaccinated or unboosted first responders will be prohibited from entering higher-risk settings or interacting with the public in the course of their work unless they have a qualifying exemption. First responders without a medical or religious exemption can no longer “test out” of vaccination requirements.
Recent COVID-19 outbreaks have been traced to unvaccinated first responders, according to Marin County Public Health records. As of February 7, Marin County Public Health was managing multiple, preventable outbreaks in vulnerable, higher-risk settings. Those settings include those in which the first responders work with people who are at higher risk of severe illness, hospitalization, or death from COVID-19, including congregate settings. Among active outbreaks countywide, there is one at the Marin County Jail, nine at skilled nursing facilities (“nursing homes”), nine at residential care facilities for the elderly, and 19 at other group living facilities.
“These outbreaks have been amplified by contact with unboosted staff, an inadequate testing cadence, and a highly contagious variant,” said Dr. Lisa Santora, the County’s Deputy Public Health Officer. “It is critical to protect our public safety and health care systems from the Omicron variant as well as future waves of COVID-19 activity.”
First responders included in the Public Health order include police officers, Sheriff’s deputies, probation officers, part-time and full-time firefighters, and emergency medical services (EMS) personnel, and those providing pre-hospital medical care.The order also applies to first responders who routinely interact with the public.
Marin has one of the highest COVID-19 vaccination rates of any county in the nation with 90.7% of those aged 5 and over having completed a vaccine series.
“While highly vaccinated, Marin County is experiencing waning community immunity,” added Santora. "It has been more than one year since many first responders completed their primary COVID-19 vaccine series.”
Evidence indicates that the Omicron variant is significantly more transmissible than prior virus variants and that individuals who have had only their initial vaccine series and are eligible for the booster are susceptible to the Omicron variant.
Santora said it’s critical to ensure all individuals working in higher-risk settings are both vaccinated and boosted when eligible. Protecting frontline workers from infection is essential to staffing our critical infrastructure, including public safety and health care systems. Individuals working in higher-risk settings can also expose highly vulnerable individuals who are at increased risk of severe illness and death.
For the time being, workers in those first-responder roles who are not fully vaccinated or not up-to-date with a booster must comply with the following if they have not tested positive for COVID-19 in past 90 days:
For more information, visit Coronavirus.MarinHHS.org.
- use a fit-tested N95 mask at all times when around other people, except when eating, bathing, or sleeping; and,
- undergo twice weekly testing; and,
- when practicable, avoid using indoor breakrooms or cafeterias and avoid eating indoors or sleeping indoors when others are present.