California health officials now require people who work in medical facilities to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. This includes employees in hospitals, nursing homes, doctors’ offices, clinics and other medical institutions. But it doesn’t include home care workers.

Advocates of people with disabilities say workers who provide services to vulnerable patients should also be required to get their injections.

“People with disabilities are now back home, we are now living in fear again and we want to make sure that the people who meet us in our homes, in the community, our therapists, everyone who supports us directly, get” vaccinated “, said Judy Mark, president of Disability Voices United.

In late July, Governor Gavin Newsom told people who work in hospitals, nursing homes, adult day care centers, and other facilities that they could either be vaccinated or tested at least once a week. On August 5, he issued a new order that removed the test option. Healthcare workers must now be vaccinated unless they provide a religious or medical exemption.

Disability rights groups urge Newsom to expand its mandate.

People with developmental disabilities who become infected with COVID-19 are at risk of death about three times as high as the total population.

Often times, these patients interact with multiple caregivers on a daily or weekly basis.

“The fight hasn’t stopped,” said Tim Jin, an Orange County resident with cerebral palsy. “The new Delta variant has become even more dangerous and frightening, and people like me are even more at risk after the vaccination.”

Rick Wood, a parent of Mammoth Lakes whose son has a developmental disorder, said he was so concerned about their caregivers that he started offering unvaccinated workers a financial bonus so they could be vaccinated. Nonprofit programs for people with disabilities could also help families provide this incentive, proponents said.

“Caregivers who come into the home provide intimate hygiene such as feeding, dressing, bathing, and the like,” said Wood. “They are no different from healthcare workers who perform similar roles and provide similar services in hospitals and medical facilities.”

The SEIU Local 2015 Union represents long-term care workers, including those visiting clients’ homes. They said they are not opposed to the mandate as long as employers make vaccines available in geographically convenient locations and allow paid time off for vaccine appointments.

The state has not announced whether it will extend the mandate to home care workers.

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