On May 21, a new rule from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) goes into effect. McKnights reports that nursing home operators will be required to not only offer COVID-19 vaccinations to staff but also educate them on it. The rule will be enforced starting June 13.
If operators are not able to offer the vaccine, they will be required to show proof that an attempt was made to obtain them. They will not be penalized if they fail to acquire them.
Holly Norelli, branch manager for oversight and transparency at CMS, stated that staff will not be asked to tell “everything about the COVID vaccine. What does it do, and what are all the risk and benefits?.” Instead, surveyors will want to ensure that some education was provided. They do not expect expertise from staff on the vaccine.
CMS expects the education to include the benefits of the vaccine as well as possible side effects. CMS has listed resources from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that operators can utilize.
Documentation will be necessary to ensure staff received the appropriate education. The information can be presented or printed materials can be distributed, but staff must sign to confirm receipt.
Norelli believes it is important to educate staff on the vaccine to help eliminate any concerns and fears they may have regarding it and in turn increase its uptake.
A new interim rule also went into effect on May 11 which requires operators to report vaccination rates among staff and residents on a weekly basis.
Education and vaccination data will help CMS learn which facilities need additional help and resources.