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Emergency Rule to Require COVID-19 Vaccinations for Home Care and Hospice

The August 26 meeting agenda of the Public Health and Health Planning Council (PHHPC) Special Codes, Regulations and Legislation Committee includes the consideration of an Emergency Rule that would mandate vaccines for “personnel” of Certified Home Health Agencies (CHHAs), Long Term Home Health Care Programs, Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) Home Care Programs, Licensed Home Care Service Agencies (LHCSAs) and Limited LHCSAs; hospices; and adult care facilities by October 7 (with limited medical and religious exemptions).

Read the Rule here.

The Rule states that “covered entities” will have to continuously require personnel to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, with the first dose for current personnel received by October 7, 2021 (September 27, 2021 for general hospitals and nursing homes).

Agencies will be required to obtain documentation of such vaccination and retain it in personnel or other appropriate records in accordance with applicable privacy laws.

Medical exemptions to the vaccine requirement are allowed if any licensed physician or certified nurse practitioner certifies that immunization with the COVID-19 vaccine is detrimental to the health of the member of a covered entity’s personnel, based upon a pre-existing health condition.

Covered entities will be able to grant a religious exemption for COVID-19 vaccination for personnel if they hold a genuine and sincere religious belief contrary to the practice of immunization.

Entities must also review and make determinations on requests for medical and religious exemptions, which must also be documented in personnel or other appropriate records, as well as any reasonable accommodations to protect the well-being of the patients, residents and personnel in such facilities.

Upon the request of the state Department of Health, covered entities must report and submit documentation for the following:

  • the number and percentage of personnel that have been vaccinated against COVID-19;
  • the number and percentage of personnel for which medical exemptions have been granted;
  • the number and percentage of personnel for which religious exemptions have been granted; and
  • the total number of covered personnel.

The Rule also adds documentation of COVID-19 vaccination or a valid medical or religious exemption to the personnel requirements for CHHAs, LHCSAs and hospices.

These proposed emergency regulations will become effective upon filing with the Department of State and will expire, unless renewed, 90 days from the date of filing.

HCA is currently reviewing this major proposal and its ramifications from all sides with the HCA Board of Directors. This includes critical information that we will send and that must be considered by the PHHPC in weighing these actions on home care, as home care vaccination is an extremely complicated matter.

Regardless of the decision it takes, the Council and the state must attend to the urgent access and support needs in home care, and direct its COVID-related policies in the full and necessary support of this sector, its workforce, agencies and patients.

HCA will follow with an update to the membership on the proposal’s status and the imminent actions the Association takes with the Council.

For questions or concerns, please contact Andrew Koski or Alyssa Lovelace.