The Baker administration announced plans Wednesday to require COVID-19 vaccination for all staff at rest homes, assisted living residences, hospice programs, as well as for home care workers providing in-home direct care services.
The plan to expand the vaccine requirement for caregivers is subject to Public Health Council approval. The administration said it is part of its continued effort to protect older adults against the coronavirus.
The move comes after last month's announcement requiring vaccination for all employees of skilled nursing facilities and the state's two soldiers' homes and amid an uptick of coronavirus cases in the state due to the delta variant.
If approved, the requirement would be implemented through the respective Department of Public Health and Executive Office of Elder Affairs regulations that would cover 62 free standing rest homes and 268 assisted living residences, 85 hospice programs and up to 100,000 home care workers in Massachusetts.
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What do the new requirements entail?
All personnel at rest homes, assisted living residences, hospice programs and home care workers will be required to receive the COVID-19 vaccination by Oct. 31 unless they qualify for a limited exemption because they have a medical condition that prevents them from receiving vaccination or they object to vaccination based on a sincerely held religious belief.
For rest homes, assisted living residences and hospice settings, the requirement applies to all individuals employed directly by the provider as well as contractors who regularly enter the facility.
The vaccination requirement for home care workers applies to individuals providing in-home, direct care who are employed by an agency that is contracted or subcontracted with the Commonwealth, including:
- Home health agencies enrolled in the MassHealth program
- Home care agencies providing services under the state’s home care program
- Continuous Skilled Nursing agencies enrolled in the MassHealth program
- Hospice programs (including hospice facilities and agencies that provide services in homes) Group Adult Foster Care agencies enrolled in the MassHealth program delivering personal care services that assist individuals with eating, toileting, dressing, bathing, transferring, and mobility.
The vaccination requirement also applies to independent, non-agency-based home care workers contracted with the state providing in-home, direct care including:
- Independent Nurses enrolled in the MassHealth program
- Personal Care Attendants providing services through the MassHealth program
- Consumer Directed Care workers providing services under EOEA’s self-directed program.