Is Your Workplace Affected? Here's What Angelenos Need to Know About Vaccine Mandates

Keerthi Vedantam

Keerthi Vedantam is a bioscience reporter at dot.LA. She cut her teeth covering everything from cloud computing to 5G in San Francisco and Seattle. Before she covered tech, Keerthi reported on tribal lands and congressional policy in Washington, D.C. Connect with her on Twitter, Clubhouse (@keerthivedantam) or Signal at 408-470-0776.

Is Your Workplace Affected? Here's What Angelenos Need to Know About Vaccine Mandates

President Biden announced a sweeping vaccine mandate on Thursday that would affect as many as 100 million workers. Under the mandate, the Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration will demand that any private company with at least 100 or more employees either make sure the workforce is vaccinated or is undergoing weekly COVID tests. Health care workers who work at facilities that take Medicare or Medicaid and federal workers are required to be fully vaccinated.

It was a bold policy—and one that likely feels a little familiar to some Angelenos. In August, a slew of employers, including the city of L.A., came out with various vaccine and testing mandates for their employees, some far more strict than OSHA's rule.

OSHA's new rule will be incorporated into the Emergency Temporary Standards for COVID-19 the department put out last year, which includes new rules and best practices for business to handle COVID-19. But the logistics of the rule are unclear - the department hasn't indicated whether or not this will apply to companies that are fully distributed and have no central office or headquarters. Nor has it announced when this rule will go into effect.

So, who exactly has to get vaccinated in L.A.? And what about mask mandates? Below, we've got answers to your most pressing mandate questions.

So, What Mandates Are Already in Place in L.A. in Addition to What Biden Announced Thursday?

Los Angeles - both the city and county - have already placed masking mandates for all indoor settings, including the workplace, and have required vaccinations for all municipal employees. And the state previously mandated health care workers and teachers must be vaccinated or, if unable to, get tested regularly. Even the Los Angeles Unified School District, the largest school district in the state, mandated vaccines for eligible students.

Weren't Some Companies in L.A. Are Already Requiring Their Employees To Get Vaccinated?

Several large companies have implemented vaccine mandates for their employees, from Walmart to Netflix to Disney, which follow the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's guidelines on COVID-19. The department, which regulates federal workforce discrimination laws, says employers are allowed to require in-person employees to get vaccinated before coming to work in-person.

Will I get time off to get the vaccine?

Yes, OSHA will require eligible employers to offer paid time off in order for workers to get vaccinated and recuperate from any side effects. This includes public sector employees like teachers and municipal workers.

What happens if my business doesn't comply?

OSHA said businesses that don't comply with OSHA's rule will face fines up to $13,600.

My company has fewer than 100 employees. Do I need to get vaccinated?

OSHA's most recent rule applies to only employers with 100 or more people in the workforce. Companies with less than 100 employees will need to follow any local regulations prescribed by municipal governments.

However, OSHA does have a set of rules outlined in its emergency order for health care workers that encompass masking and vaccination rules. You can check to see if your employer applies here.

How many people are vaccinated in L.A. in general?

About 75% of vaccine-eligible residents in Los Angeles County have already received at least one dose, and more than 5.8 million out of 8.8 million county residents are fully vaccinated. Department of Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer said last week that the county is already gearing up in preparation for booster shots. Since last week, the county has added more than 100 new vaccine sites.

How can I get vaccinated in L.A.?

Residents can visit VaccinateLACounty.com and make an appointment or find a walk-in appointment at one of over a thousand vaccination sites across the county. Those who need to can ask for an in-person vaccination by calling the Department of Health Services at 833-540-0473.
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