COVID-19 Vaccine Frequently Asked Questions
California Correctional Health Care Services (CCHCS) and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) are working to administer the COVID-19 vaccine and boosters to employees and incarcerated individuals in alignment with California Department of Public Health (CDPH) guidelines. COVID-19 vaccinations are available at no cost to all CDCR and CCHCS employees and incarcerated individuals.
How does the COVID-19 vaccine work?
COVID-19 vaccines help our bodies develop immunity to the virus that causes COVID-19 without us having to get the illness. COVID-19 vaccines that have been authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have been carefully evaluated in clinical trials for their ability to protect us from COVID-19.
Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe?
Yes. COVID-19 vaccines have been authorized by the FDA and have been carefully evaluated in several rounds of clinical trials. The research is clear: COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective in preventing COVID-19. Vaccinated persons who do become infected with the virus that cause COVID-19 are much less likely to become seriously ill, to be hospitalized, or to die from the illness. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) track any adverse reactions patients may have. While very few patients have had an allergic reaction to any of the vaccines, vaccine providers monitor patients for at least 15 minutes following their immunization to quickly respond in the rare event of an adverse reaction.
Are boosters being administered?
Booster shots are available for any incarcerated person or staff member who meets the criteria for obtaining a booster
- At least six months since their second dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccination, or
- At least two months since their initial Johnson & Johnson vaccination
Workers may obtain no-cost COVID-19 vaccination and booster from CDCR/CCHCS vaccine clinics. Alternatively, workers may obtain no-cost vaccination/booster outside CDCR/CCHCS from any clinic listed on the website myturn.ca.gov, or from their personal health care provider.
What about the Omicron variant?
A new variant of COVID was first identified in November 2021. This variant is at least three times more contagious than the Delta variant. Omicron is rapidly spreading around the world. This variant is now the most common COVID variant in California.
The new Omicron variant has over 50 mutations. The two-dose vaccine series does not protect as well against infection from Omicron. Fortunately, a third dose of the Pfizer or Moderna mRNA vaccine can boost the immune system and is very effective against infection.”
What if I have a religious or medical exemption?
CDCR/CCHCS/CALPIA staff, contractors, registry providers and volunteers with a sincerely held religious belief should work with their supervisor and local Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) coordinator. Religious accommodation requests require a written statement, via the CDCR Form 2273, Request for Religious Accommodation, indicating the individual’s sincerely held religious belief that precludes them from receiving any COVID-19 vaccine.
With the exception of health care registry and contract workers, CDCR/CCHCS/CALPIA workers with a qualifying medical, mental health, or developmental condition shall immediately contact their supervisor and local Return-to-Work Coordinator (RTWC). Reasonable medical accommodation requests are submitted with a CDCR 855, Request for Reasonable Accommodation, and a written statement signed by a physician, nurse practitioner, or other licensed medical professional practicing under the license of a physician stating that the individual qualifies for the accommodation (but without describing the underlying health condition or disability) and the probable duration of the person’s inability to receive any COVID-19 vaccine (or indicating the duration is unknown or permanent). Requests for reasonable medical accommodation from health care registry contract workers shall be submitted to their vendor/contractor/network contractor, along with a signed written medical statement. If the accommodation is denied, the worker has 14 calendar days to initiate a vaccination.
Can I be disciplined for not being fully vaccinated and boosted?
Staff subject to the CDPH order who do not comply with requirements for vaccination, booster, testing, and masking mandates may be subject to corrective or disciplinary action. For registry providers or contract workers, and applicable retired annuitants, Hiring Authorities will report non-compliance to the vendor/contractor. Beginning February 2, 2022, assignments for those not in compliance who have not received or requested an accommodation will end.
Can my family member get vaccinated at my workplace?
No. Vaccine clinics held at institutions and CDCR/CCHCS locations are for current staff only. The COVID-19 vaccine is free at health clinics and pharmacies in the community, or through an individual’s personal health care provider. Visit myturn.ca.gov for details.