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CMS Requires All Staff of Long-Term Care Facilities to be Vaccinated

November 09, 2021

On November 4, 2021, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued an emergency regulation requiring long term care facilities to develop and implement policies to ensure all staff are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. All eligible staff must receive their first vaccine dose (if receiving a two-dose vaccine) by December 5, 2021 and must be fully vaccinated, having received two doses of a two dose vaccine or one dose of a one dose vaccine by January 4, 2022.

Staff covered by this requirement include: facility employees; licensed practitioners; students, trainees, and volunteers; and individuals who provide care, treatment, or other services for the facility and/or its residents, under contract or by other arrangement.

Under this requirement, facilities must establish a process to ensure all staff are fully vaccinated, except for those who are granted exemptions; they must implement additional precautions to mitigate the transmission and spread of COVID-19 for the staff who are not fully vaccinated; and they must track and document the vaccination status of all staff and whether staff have obtained boosters.

Facilities are also required to establish a process for staff to request medical and religious exemptions to the vaccine requirement.  They must track and document information on all staff who have been granted exemptions from COVID-19 vaccination requirements and ensure they have all the required medical documentation regarding the exemptions.  Additionally, they must track and document staff whose vaccinations must be temporarily delayed due to clinical precautions as recommended by the CDC.

The regulation also applies to Home Health Services and most other Medicare and Medicaid providers.  Compliance will be ensured through existing survey and enforcement processes.

Residents continue to have the right to accept or refuse a COVID-19 vaccine and change their decision at any time.

CMS held a webinar about these new regulations.  Watch the recording and get the slides.  CMS also created these FAQs and this infographic about the requirement.

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