Long Road Ahead and Continued Obstacles for Home Care, Hospice Vaccination

Capitol Report | January 2021

In last month’s Capitol Report, we urged your support for home care and hospice prioritization in the state’s vaccination rollout. At that time, the status of over 200,000 workers — and an even greater number of patients and families — was unclear.

In early January came news from the Department of Health that home care and hospice workers were eligible for phase 1A starting in week 4, beginning January 4 — the first explicit recognition of our sector’s prioritization in New York State’s protocols.

“This development didn’t just happen overnight,” wrote Home Health Care News on January 10. “In fact, it was the result of a significant push from New York home-based care associations.”

HCA has since been engaging in a flurry of communications with hundreds of community-based providers who are, in turn, getting the word out to hundreds of thousands of staff about vaccination appointment logistics and protocols.

While home care and other 1A workers remain a priority, the week 4 rollout concluded on January 8 with the Governor’s announcement, based on federal guidelines, that vaccines would now be open to 3 million more additional New Yorkers under priority level 1B.

As any number of sources can attest, the vaccine rollout has been irregular and inconsistent, with many overlapping levels of jurisdiction or planning, and, of course, supply insufficiencies that have further complicated matters.

On January 13, HCA polled several providers during a statewide meeting on vaccination logistics. Most (85%) indicated that 1 to 10% of their staff had been vaccinated at that point, with higher rates reported by the remaining 15% of providers. (Click here for these and other results.)

We stress that this is a very small sample of providers, but it offers a window into what’s happening on the ground.

While HCA and our providers are making important strides to encourage and facilitate vaccination, we have a long road ahead and welcome support from the Legislature in this monumental effort.

For a further briefing on the vaccination effort in home care and hospice, please contact Alyssa Lovelace, Director for Public Policy and Advocacy, at alovelace@hcanys.org.