Federal Vaccine Recommendations Include Home Care as HCA Urges Greater Recognition by NYS

Situation Report | December 7, 2020

At an emergency meeting on December 1, an influential federal advisory committee recommended that the “initial phase of the COVID-19 vaccination program” (Phase 1a) should be offered to residents of long-term care facilities and health care personnel — a definition that encompasses home care workers.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), which voted on the measure 13-1, makes recommendations to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) recently reported that the ACIP’s standards for “essential critical infrastructure workers” defines health care providers to include nurses, nurse’s assistants, and aides; physical, respiratory, speech and occupational therapists and assistants; and social workers, with specific reference to:

  • Home care workers (e.g. home health care, at-home hospice, home dialysis, home infusion, etc.).
  • Home health workers (e.g., nursing, respiratory therapists, health aides) who “go into the homes of individuals with chronic, complex conditions and/or disabilities to deliver nursing and/or daily living care.”
  • Personal assistance services providers to support activities of daily living for older adults, people with disabilities, and others with chronic health conditions who live independently in the community with supports and services.

HCA Advocates at State Level

According to NAHC, it will be up to state authorities whether to follow the guidance. States also have discretion to make further, more detailed decisions if necessary — for example, whether to put emergency room doctors and nurses ahead of other health care workers if vaccine supplies are low.

Ever since the state released its vaccination distribution plan, HCA has communicated with the state Department of Health (DOH) and representatives from the Cuomo administration about our concerns that home care workers and patients are not specifically included as priority groups. We have also discussed participating in joint activities with other associations to advocate for home care providers and patients.