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Regulation Adopted to Prevent the Transmission of Influenza

According to a new regulation, workers and volunteers in nursing homes, home care agencies, hospices, diagnostic and treatment centers, and hospital settings will have to wear surgical or procedure masks if they haven’t gotten immunized against the flu. We recommend providers review a newly issued Dear Administrator Letter and Frequently Asked Questions on the new requirement. Click here to view the DOH Website on the new requirement, and here for general information and resources on influenza. 

Essentially, any employee or volunteer who engages in activities that could potentially expose residents/patients to the disease must wear a mask if they have not been immunized during times and parts of the state that the Commissioner determines that influenza is prevalent.  Providers must develop policies and procedures, and document the vaccination status of employees and volunteers. The regulation is effective July 31, however it is important to understand that the actual mask requirement relates only to times when influenza is prevalent and the worker or volunteer is working in a way that could pose a threat to the residents or patients in the vicinity.

Assisted living programs (ALPs) should know that this requirement applies to their home care component as well. Other adult care facilities and assisted living residences should also educate themselves on this requirement as home care providers come into those facilities to provide care to residents.

LeadingAge New York is working with DOH to provide education on this new requirement for our members. If you have questions about the new requirement, e-mail: FluMaskReg@health.state.ny.us. We recommend that members copy us on these questions so we can help ensure that questions are answered.

Despite concerns raised during the public comment period on this regulation, it was felt that previous efforts to adopt strategies to prevent transmission of influenza other than vaccination have not been effective and this is a necessary public health measure. Click here to view the regulation in its entirely, beginning on page 36. 

Contact: Diane Darbyshire, ddarbyshire@leadingageny.org, 518-867-8828