Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Baker-Polito Administration Announces Continued Efforts to Protect Older Adults in Skilled Nursing Facilities

All staff mandated to be vaccinated by October 10, 2021 

The Baker-Polito Administration announced today plans to implement a vaccine mandate for long-term care (LTC) staff to strengthen infection control and protect vulnerable residents. COVID-19 vaccination is the most effective method for preventing infection and serious illness from the virus, and staff at long-term care facilities and other health care providers serving vulnerable populations are critical in efforts to protect older residents.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Commonwealth has taken significant steps to support nursing facility residents and staff, including providing over $260 million in state funding, staffing supports, and providing over 2.8 million pieces of personal protective equipment (PPE), on top of $180 million in federal funding. In addition, the state has increased facility accountability through regular infection control surveys and other compliance audits and imposing admission freezes. Today’s actions reinforce the state’s commitment to ensuring the safety and care for these residents, some of our most vulnerable residents.

There are 378 skilled nursing facilities (Level I-III), as well as the two Soldiers’ Homes in Massachusetts. As of August 2nd, 155 facilities had less than 75% of their staff fully vaccinated.

Long Term Care Staff Vaccine Mandate:

Skilled Nursing Facilities (Level I-III), as well as the two Soldiers’ Homes (collectively “LTC providers”) will be required to ensure all personnel are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. A Public Health Order will be issued for non-state operated skilled nursing facilities and emergency regulations will be filed for the two state operated soldiers’ homes.

Personnel includes all individuals employed directly or by contract by the LTC provider. All unvaccinated personnel are to receive a first dose of a two-dose series by September 1, 2021; and be fully vaccinated by October 10, 2021. To ensure compliance, beginning October 10, 2021, the Department of Public Health (DPH) will enforce this mandate for provider operated Skilled Nursing Homes.

The requirement will provide exemptions for those with medical restrictions or sincerely held religious beliefs that prevent them from receiving vaccination.