Pharmacy Drawer Shanan Beasley draws the COVID-19 vaccine out of a vial at Katherine R. Smith Elementary School in San Jose, Calif., on Nov. 4, 2021. (Harika Maddala/ Bay City News)

Santa Clara County modified its health order this week requiring workers in high-risk settings to get vaccinated and boosted, allowing workers with valid exemptions to return to their jobs if they regularly test for COVID-19.

Under the original order, unvaccinated workers in high-risk settings were prohibited from working, even if they had an approved religious and medical exemption.

An updated version, which went into effect Tuesday, will now allow those employees with valid exemptions to return to work as long as they test regularly and wear a mask, according to the county.

County Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody issued the initial order Dec. 28, 2021, requiring booster vaccinations for workers in settings that had a higher risk of COVID transmission.

The health order applies to workers, sub-contractors and volunteers in health care and long-term care facilities, jails, congregate shelters and to those who work with medical patients such as first responders.

The updated order also allows affected workers to defer receiving a booster vaccine dose by up to 90 days if they have recently been infected with the virus, which offers a shorter period of immune response than a vaccine dose.

As of Wednesday, 84.9 percent of all Santa Clara County residents have completed their initial vaccine series. Nearly 70 percent of residents eligible for a booster dose have received one.