doctor administering the covid 19 vaccine for a patient
Credit: franckreporter

Staff shortages currently experienced by long-term care providers won’t be exacerbated by the new emergency regulation requiring healthcare staff to be vaccinated against COVID-10, a top health official said Wednesday. 

“To be clear, we are seeing staffing shortages now from the virus, not that vaccine. I want to also emphasize, or reemphasize, that patient safety is our foremost priority,” said Lee Fleisher, M.D., chief medical officer at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. 

“We believe that extending the vaccination requirements to most Medicare- and Medicaid-certified facilities will help to stabilize the healthcare system and eliminate potential incentives for staff to migrate to different settings or across state lines,” he added. 

Fleisher’s comments came during the Q&A portion of a second stakeholder call hosted by the agency Wednesday regarding the newly proposed rule. Providers have warned that the mandate could have a “disastrous impact” on seniors if even a small percentage of workers leave their jobs due to the regulation. 

Fleisher also told providers that their early research indicates many COVID-19 vaccine mandates have already been successfully initiated in a variety of healthcare systems, settings and states with few staff resignations.

“This [regulation] will also ensure that a significant number of healthcare staff are vaccinated across settings, reducing staff quarantines and improving safety no matter where patients seek care.”