People attending events at facilities like the SAP Center and San Jose Convention Center will soon be required to show proof that they have received a COVID-19 vaccine booster dose following a vote Tuesday by the San Jose City Council.
The ordinance, which the council approved unanimously and will take effect immediately, will apply to indoor events of 50 or more people at city-owned venues.
Event attendees will be required to show proof of their completed initial vaccination series and reception of a booster, if eligible, or proof of a negative COVID test.
City-owned facilities will have until Feb. 4 to begin screening event attendees for their booster status.
Mayor Sam Liccardo, who proposed the booster requirement last month, argued that ensuring event attendees are vaccinated with a booster is a matter of public safety, as they are far less likely to develop serious illness or die even if they do contract the virus.
“We all know those who are vaccinated and boosted, we all know many friends and family members who have contracted COVID,” Liccardo said during the council’s meeting Tuesday evening.
“The hope is that — what we see in the data — they’ll be much better off and they are less likely to transmit it to others, and that is a great public health benefit for all of us,” he said.
The city is also in discussion with the identity verification software company Clear to install its Health Pass system at city-owned facilities, which would make it more efficient for people to prove their vaccination status by scanning a QR code.
Approving a contract with Clear would require an installation cost of roughly $2,000 per facility, city officials said.
That cost would then translate to a 77-cent surcharge per attendee, which city officials said is lower than the current standard of $3-$4 that it costs to screen attendees for their vaccine status.
Liccardo introduced the booster requirement in light of the virus’ omicron variant, which is driving a surge in COVID cases both in the Bay Area and across the state.
While unvaccinated people continue to test positive for the virus at a disproportionate rate on average compared to fully vaccinated people, health officials have urged that omicron’s high transmissibility makes an additional vaccine dose necessary to maintain an effective immune response.
Everyone age 12 and up is eligible for a booster vaccine if they completed their initial vaccine series at least five months ago, or at least two months ago if they received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
The city is also mulling a requirement that city employees show proof that they have gotten a booster vaccine dose if they are eligible.
Councilwoman Magdalena Carrasco urged residents to get vaccinated and a booster, if eligible, if for no other reason than to prevent serious complications from the virus.
Carrasco added that the virus has killed multiple family members and kept one relative in an intensive care unit for nine months. Carrasco herself also tested positive at the end of December, forcing the cancellation of her family’s Christmas plans.
“I do hope that people really heed the warning,” she said. “If we haven’t learned anything in the past two years, I don’t know what else to say.”