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State Vaccination Mandate Will No Longer Be Enforced

On May 24th, the Department of Health (DOH) issued this Dear Administrator Letter (DAL) outlining the intent to recommend the repeal of the State health care personnel (HCP) COVID-19 vaccination mandate previously in effect for nursing homes, adult care facilities (ACFs), home care, hospice, and adult day health care (ADHC) providers. DOH has indicated that they will no longer enforce the mandate effective May 24th. Ultimately, the repeal of the regulation cannot be formalized until the Public Health and Health Planning Council (PHHPC) meets, however. This may not occur until the fall; thus, the State intends to cease enforcement in the interim. Any provider cited for failure to comply with this requirement prior to May 24th will still be out of compliance.

Federal Vaccination Mandate

The federal government also announced its intent to repeal the federal HCP vaccination mandate several weeks ago. This change is not yet in effect, however. The change must also proceed through the rulemaking channels, and we anticipate that information will be released shortly. Thus, providers held to the federal requirements must continue to comply with the federal requirement until it is officially rescinded.

It should be noted that the federal vaccination mandate differed from the State mandate in that it offered more flexibility with regard to religious beliefs. QSO-23-02-ALL, dated Oct. 26, 2022, states:

§483.80(i)(3)(vi) - (viii) Vaccination Exemptions: Facilities must have a process by which staff may request exemption from COVID-19 vaccination based on an applicable Federal law. This process should clearly identify how an exemption is requested, and to whom the request must be made. Additionally, facilities must have a process for collecting and evaluating such requests, including the tracking and secure documentation of information provided by those staff who have requested exemption, the facility’s determination of the request, and any accommodations that are granted.

Note: Staff who are unable to furnish proper exemption documentation must be vaccinated or the facility must follow the actions for unvaccinated staff.

The QSO continues to discuss the various exemptions. This LeadingAge National resource provides more information, including Section L – Vaccinations: Title VII and Religious Objections to COVID-19 Vaccines and this Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Religious Accommodation Request Form.

Important Reminders

Obviously, vaccination remains a powerful tool in fighting COVID-19. Members are reminded that they can institute their own organizational mandate regarding the COVID-19 vaccination, should they desire. Nursing home and ACF members are also still required to facilitate access to vaccination for their staff and residents, per regulation outlined in Title 10 NYCRR Part 66-4. Members are urged to continue to otherwise encourage and facilitate access to vaccination.

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