New healthcare worker vaccination rules have been released by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.  These new rules require providers to establish policy by Dec. 5 which ensures that long-term care staff are vaccinated against COVID-19 by Jan. 4. The new rules state that all eligible staff receive either the required two doses of Pfizer or Moderna or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine by no later than the first Tuesday of 2022. The complete emergency regulation is available to read as a PDF.

In mid-August of this year, the White House announced that federal vaccination mandates would begin to be imposed. The CMS notes that nursing home staff vaccination rates have increased by approximately nine percentage points, jumping from 62% to 71%. In a statement, CMS said that it will use established survey and enforcement processes to encourage compliance with the new requirements.

“CMS’s goal is to bring healthcare providers into compliance. However, the Agency will not hesitate to use its full enforcement authority to protect the health and safety of patients”, says the agency. Providers or suppliers that do not meet the requirements may be cited and will have an opportunity to return to compliance before additional actions occur.

Operators will be allowed to develop processes for allowing exemptions based on recognized medical conditions or religious beliefs, observances, or other practices.

The administration has also announced that companies with more than 100 employees will also be mandated to require COVID-19 vaccinations for their workers or do regular testing by Jan. 4. This temporary emergency standard is designed to protect more than 84 million U.S. workers, including approximately 76,000 providers, and covering more than 17 million healthcare workers.

A recent White House report sharing an analysis of healthcare systems, educational institutions, public-sector agencies and private businesses states that organizations that have vaccination requirements have seen their vaccination rates increase by more than 20 percentage points.

You can find answers to many frequently asked questions about the emergency regulation on the CMS website.

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