UPDATE: New Developments Regarding Nursing Home Vaccination Mandates – August 23, 2021

In addition to the recently issued Health Department emergency regulations requiring nursing homes to offer their employees and residents COVID-19 vaccinations (within 14 days of new hiring or admissions), Governor Cuomo has announced that all healthcare workers in New York State, including staff at hospitals and nursing homes will be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Monday, September 27. The State Department of Health will require all hospitals and nursing homes to develop and implement a policy mandating employee vaccinations, with limited exceptions for those with religious or medical reasons.  Additionally, President Biden has announced that nursing homes will be required to have vaccinated staff for them to participate in Medicare and Medicaid programs, or otherwise receive federal funding. All these new directives have been coming quickly and from various sources; we will be providing additional, comprehensive guidance regarding this issue as soon as the full picture is known.

Last month, the New York State Department of Health (DOH) put forth an emergency regulation concerning nursing home vaccination programs. Here are several key highlights:

  • Effective now, a nursing home must offer all consenting, unvaccinated existing personnel an opportunity to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • The operator and administrator must ensure that all new personnel (including contract staff), every new resident, and every re-admitted resident has an opportunity to receive the COVID-19 vaccine within 14 days of having been hired, admitted, or readmitted.
  • Conspicuous signage that the facility offers COVID-19 vaccination must be posted throughout the facility, including at points of entry and exit and each residential hallway.
  • All personnel and residents who decline to be vaccinated must be provided a written affirmation for their signature acknowledging that they were offered the opportunity for a COVID-19 vaccination but declined. Affirmation must state that they are aware that, if they later desire to be vaccinated, it is their responsibility to request the vaccination from the facility. These affirmations must remain on file at the facility and made available to DOH on request.
  • Nursing homes must certify to the DOH weekly that the facility has proactively offered all new unvaccinated residents and personnel an opportunity to obtain the COVID-19 vaccination within 14 days of being hired, admitted, or readmitted.

We are happy to offer guidance on how to comply with these requirements across long-term care facilities and nursing homes. In the meantime, subscribe to our health care blog for further updates and insight.