CMS Announces Vaccine Mandate for LTC Employees

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS) announced an emergency regulation ordering all health care facilities that are funded by Medicare and Medicaid to vaccinate all employees against COVID-19 by January 4th. This includes skilled nursing facilities. Skilled Nursing News reports all facilities should ensure that employees receive the one-dose vaccine or the first dose of the two-dose vaccine by December 5.

CMS and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) collaborated to develop this mandate. Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, CMS Administrator, stated “ensuring patient safety and protection from COVID-19 has been the focus of our efforts in combatting the pandemic and the constantly evolving challenges we’re seeing. Today’s action addresses the risk of unvaccinated health care staff to patient safety and provides stability and uniformity across the nation’s health care system to strengthen the health of people and the providers who care for them.”

Some states have introduced their own mandates. New York required all nursing home staff to be vaccinated by September 28 and reached a 97% vaccination rate by November 1. Currently, the national vaccination rate for nursing homes is 71.2%. The vaccination rate for residents is slightly higher at 85.9%.

The mandate announced by President Joe Biden requires employees of hospitals, ambulatory surgical settings, long-term care facilities, home-health agencies and dialysis centers to vaccinate their staff. Residents and employees of nursing homes now also qualify for booster shots.

Exemptions will be allowed for religious beliefs and certain medical conditions.

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