Health Care Personnel Required to Receive COVID-19 Boosters Under New DOH Regulation
Most health care personnel (HCP) are required to receive a COVID-19 vaccine booster under emergency regulations approved on Jan. 11th by the State's Public Health and Health Planning Council (PHHPC). The regulation directs "covered entities" to "continuously require personnel to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and to have received any booster or supplemental dose as recommended by the CDC." In addition to the booster mandate, the PHHPC approved a related regulation (henceforth the "vaccination access regulation") that adds booster shots to existing requirements imposed on nursing homes and adult care facilities (ACFs) to provide staff and residents with access to COVID-19 vaccinations within a specified time period. The nursing home personal protective equipment (PPE) stockpile and Surge and Flex Health Care Coordination System regulations were also extended on Jan. 11th.
HCP Booster Mandate
As under the existing vaccination mandate, covered entities subject to the booster mandate include hospitals, nursing homes, ACFs, home care, hospice, and diagnostic and treatment centers. The booster mandate likewise applies to the same categories of personnel covered by the original vaccination mandate. Like the existing mandate, the booster mandate allows for medical exemptions and does not provide for a test-out alternative.
The regulations take effect upon filing with the Department of State, which is likely to occur this week. The regulations do not indicate a point in time after the effective date by which covered entities must ensure that all non-exempt staff have received a booster shot, nor do the proposed regulations specify the compliance period for newly hired personnel. At the PHHPC meeting, under questioning by Council members and in response to concerns raised by LeadingAge NY and others, the Department of Health (DOH) committed to a gradual roll-out of the mandate that would take into account staffing shortages. The regulations continue to allow new personnel to begin work with only one dose of the vaccine.
LeadingAge NY submitted comments to the PHHPC, and Jim Clyne, our president and CEO, testified at the PHHPC meeting to reinforce our position. His testimony is available here (at 58:40). We anticipate that DOH will provide additional details concerning compliance with this new booster mandate, and we will keep members apprised of any new information that emerges.
Vaccination Access Regulation for Nursing Homes and ACFs
As noted above, in addition to the booster mandate, the PHHPC approved an extension and expansion of the vaccination access regulation on Jan. 11th. This regulation adds the booster shot to the requirements for ACFs and nursing homes to ensure access to COVID-19 vaccination for personnel and residents, to collect and maintain documentation, and to provide certain notices. The regulation also specifies penalties for each provider type.
- Nursing Homes
The regulation directs nursing homes to offer all consenting, unvaccinated existing personnel and residents an opportunity to receive the first or any recommended next or booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and to ensure that new personnel and new residents or readmissions have an opportunity to receive the first or any recommended next or booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine within 14 days of having been hired by or admitted or readmitted to such facility.
It also adds language stating that personnel with one dose of the vaccine may be able to begin working in the facility, provided that the nursing home continuously requires personnel to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and to have received any booster or supplemental dose as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The ACF regulations require that diligent efforts be made to arrange for all consenting, unvaccinated existing personnel and residents, as well as new personnel or residents newly admitted or readmitted, to register for a vaccine appointment and an appointment to receive any recommended booster.
For residents, during the pre-admission screening process, the ACF must screen for COVID-19 vaccine eligibility, status, and/or interest. Within seven days of admission or readmission, the ACF must make diligent efforts to schedule all consenting and eligible new or readmitted residents for the COVID-19 vaccination, including a recommended booster.
For personnel, the ACF must make diligent efforts to schedule all consenting and eligible new personnel for the COVID-19 vaccination within seven days.
Language is added stating that personnel with one vaccine dose may begin working in the facility, provided that the ACF continuously requires personnel to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and to have received any booster or supplemental dose as recommended by the CDC.
Booster Shot Interval Reduced to Five Months
In related news, last week, the CDC approved a reduction in the interval from completion of the primary vaccination series to the booster shot for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. For both mRNA vaccines, the recommended interval between the second dose and the booster was reduced from six months to five months. The interval from the administration of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to the booster is two months.
Contact: Karen Lipson, firstname.lastname@example.org, 518-867-8838