ALAMEDA COUNTY -- Either get a flu shot or put on a mask: that is the decision Alameda County health care workers in licensed facilities will have to make beginning Nov. 1 whether they are paid or unpaid.

Their employers will have discretion over how to implement the order, which covers the flu season -- Nov. 1 to March 31 -- until the mandate is rescinded. However, the dates could be changed if the season begins late or infections are particularly widespread. The order came Monday from Berkeley Public Health Officer Janet Berreman and Alameda County Public Health Officer Muntu Davis. Berkeley maintains its own public health agency.

The two directors issued the order after a similar vaccination-or-mask bill failed to get past Gov. Jerry Brown's desk. The order applies to all licensed health care facilities in Alameda County and the city of Berkeley, including hospitals, skilled nursing and long-term care facilities, as well as dialysis centers. Facilities with a documented 90 percent or greater HCW influenza vaccination rate are exempt from the masking requirement.

For more information, Berkeley residents can call 510-981-5300. Otherwise, call the Alameda County Public Health Department at 510-267-3250.