The California Department of Public Health will require all state health care workers to be fully vaccinated by the end of September. The agency said Thursday that the "first in the nation" mandate would apply to all employees working in nursing homes, hospitals, and other health care centers.

The CDPH said the mandate is a necessary measure given the recent rise in COVID-19 cases and consequently the increase of patients infected with the more contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus. The agency added that the vaccinations would protect both workers and vulnerable unvaccinated patients inside health care facilities.

CDPH Director and State Public Health Officer Tomás J. Aragón said, in a statement, that vaccines are the key to ending the pandemic. He said that it is important that the people helping the infected be also protected from the virus.

Under the new mandate, all health care workers will be required to be fully vaccinated by the end of next month. The agency said it will provide limited exemptions on a case-to-case basis. It said that workers with valid religious or medical reasons will be exempted but they would have to undergo certain protective measures before they can work.

Workers who are exempted from the rule will need to agree to submit to regular COVID-19 testing. The frequency of the tests will depend on the health care facility they are in. The workers will also need to constantly wear protective gear such as medical-grade masks at all times while working.

The CDPH also issued a separate order that would also allow health care facilities to legally mandate a strict "no vaccine no entry" policy. Under the order, facilities can deny entry to unvaccinated visitors. Only those who have been fully vaccinated or have had a negative COVID-19 test within the last 72 hours can be permitted entry.

The passing of the measures comes just a week after California Governor Gavin Newsom called on all health care workers to get vaccinated. Earlier in the week, New York also passed a similar measure, requiring workers to get vaccinated or face regular COVID-19 testing. The same rule, currently, applies to all federal health care workers as mandated by the Biden administration.