Timeline: It’s going to be a busy few months for vaccine mandates in Los Angeles. Courtesy image

With COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths trending in the right direction, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has outlined the timeline and deadlines for vaccine requirements that will go into effect this fall.

On Oct. 5, LA City employees must be fully vaccinated. To attend outdoor mega events, bars, breweries, wineries and nightclubs proof of at least one dose of the vaccine is required by Oct. 7. K-12 school staff in LA County will be required to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 15. Meanwhile, on Halloween, LAUSD students that participate in extracurricular activities must be fully vaccinated.

On Nov. 4 bars and similar establishments throughout LA County will be required to verify full vaccination of all patrons and employees.

“Similar requirements will go into effect on the same day [Nov. 4] in West Hollywood,” Director Barbara Ferrer said. “The LA City Council will be voting on an ordinance next week that would extend vaccination verification requirements to additional indoor establishments in LA City, including fitness centers, personal care establishments, entertainment venues and restaurants.”

Sept. 30 is when healthcare and homeworkers in LA had to be fully vaccinated and on Oct. 1, LA County employees had to be fully vaccinated.

Culver City students are required to be vaccinated by Nov. 19 and all LAUSD students 12 and over must be fully vaccinated by Dec. 19. SMMUSD is scheduled to debate a mandate for eligible students in early October although their decision may be moot.

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced on Friday that California students will have to get vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to attend in-person classes once the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorizes full approval of the shots for their age groups.

“We’re aware that the governor has indicated that the state is reviewing potential vaccination requirements for older students across the state that would then apply of course in LA County,” Ferrer said. “There are also federal requirements including President Biden’s executive order requiring federal workers to be fully vaccinated by Nov. 22 and earlier this week the state issued a new health officer order requiring workers in adult and senior care facilities, and home direct care settings to be fully vaccinated by Nov. 30, as we go through the next couple of months, helping organizations and establishments comply with vaccination requirements will be a focus for our public health teams.”

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has reiterated targeting vaccines and compared unvaccinated people to cigarette smokers. Cigarette smoking is responsible for more than 480,000 deaths per year in the United States, including more than 41,000 deaths resulting from secondhand smoke exposure. This is about one in five deaths annually, or 1,300 deaths every day.

“Vaccination requirements are a critical strategy for keeping people safe and they have a lot in common with many other public health measures that are employed to protect people from harm,” Ferrer said. “One example that comes to mind are the rules we make about smoking around other people. Smoking is hazardous both to the health of smokers and to those around them exposed to secondhand smoke. And in many cases, without rules to prevent people from smoking in certain places, others would have no control over whether they’re exposed to cigarette smoke or not. So we do have rules in place to protect everyone from exposure to secondhand smoke. California has forbidden smoking in most public places since 1998. Smoking is legal, and people can still smoke, but we have for decades agreed it’s unacceptable for the risk taken on by smokers to be shared by others, who happened to be sharing their airspace targeted vaccination mandates.”

Ferrer noted that while they can’t reduce the risk of virus transmission to zero, all efforts need to be focused on reducing the risk to as small a number as possible.

“I can understand that vaccination mandates feel like a form of judgment or coercion, the same way no smoking signs might make a smoker feel angry,” She said. “I hope that everyone can understand that this is not the intent. Unvaccinated people are unfortunately more likely to get infected and to be able to spread the virus which is transmitted through the air. Most current hospitalizations and deaths are among unvaccinated persons. The goal of these mandates is to reduce the risk to keep everyone safe while moving as quickly as possible to the end of the pandemic.”