DOH Posts FAQs for Health Personnel Vaccine Mandate 

Situation Report | September 20, 2021     

Reminder: HCA’s Vaccine Survey due by COB, today. See below for details.

The State Department of Health (DOH) posted a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) document for the emergency regulations mandating vaccination of health personnel. 

All HCA members should immediately review this FAQ, which can be accessed here. While much of the information in the FAQ has been discernible from the language of the regulation itself, the document will help either reinforce or clarify the appropriate interpretations. 

Still questions remain, not only about information provided in the document, but for areas that the document fails to address, among which were areas identified by HCA and HCA members in numerous communications with state officials. 

The document also does not address the current period of uncertainty related to the religious exemption and/or the regulation’s status broadly, given several lawsuits filed against the state and the regulations and, in particular, the US District Court for the Northern District ruling last Tuesday, September 14, placing a temporary restraining order on the applicability of the regulations. 

That order specifically suspended the vaccine mandate in operation “to the extent that DOH is barred from enforcing any requirement that employers deny religious exemptions from COVID-19 vaccination or that they revoke and exemptions employers already granted before vaccine mandate issued.” Moreover, the Court also ordered that “DOH is barred from interfering in any way with the granting of religious exemptions for forward, or with the operation of exemptions already granted.”  

DOH must file and serve all submissions in opposition to the plaintiffs’ request before this Wednesday, September 22 at 5:00 p.m., and must show cause at an in-person oral argument to be held at 10:00 a.m. next Tuesday, September 28 at the U.S. Courthouse in Utica, and why the temporary restraining order should not be converted into a preliminary injunction. 

HCA, along with representatives across the health care industry, have been appealing daily for the state to work with us to make its vaccine policy viable and sustainable. HCA has recommended an extensive series of actions to the State and the Public Health and Health Planning Council that would support providers in implementing the state’s policy. The Public Health and Health Planning Council has repeatedly asked DOH to come back to the Council, to address the issues that HCA and members of the Council have raised; to date, and to our knowledge, everyone still awaits DOH’s response. 

Respond Now to Important Survey on the Impact of the COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate

To further assist and inform HCA advocacy, and to help inform state officials, HCA released this survey to all agencies to determine vaccination rates and assess the impact of the mandate on projected worker departure from their positions. The survey is due by close of business today. HCA urges all members to complete this critically important survey! 

As the situation with both state and federal vaccination policy and COVID-19 prevention/intervention policy overall continue to be highly fluid, the status and developments are near continuously unfolding. HCA will keep the membership closely apprised of all material developments and state/federal actions affecting the home care/hospice workforce and operations.