Long-term care facilities in New York must offer new hires an opportunity to receive a COVID-19 vaccine within two weeks of their employment, according to new state guidance.
The advisory was issued late Thursday by the state’s Department of Health. The mandate requires providers to offer the shot to all residents and staff by April 29, and to new hires or admissions within two weeks of them arriving at the facility.
The “emergency” move is seen as a way to increase pressure to do more to elevate employee vaccination rates, according to a state health department spokesperson quoted in a local report. Nursing homes are “inexplicably … letting vaccine doses sit on shelves,” the spokesperson added.
Some providers complained the measure was announced without considering their input.
Operators could face a fine of up to $2,000 per violation if they don’t comply. Currently, about 60% of the state’s long-term care workers have opted into receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.
“There are healthcare workers who are afraid to take the vaccine, period. How do you convince them that this is in the best interest for themselves and their families? It’s something that everybody is still trying to figure out,” Michael Balboni, executive director of the Greater New York Health Care Facilities Association, told the New York Post.
One nursing home official who was not named said the new policy didn’t take into consideration the challenges providers have getting the vaccine, especially in smaller quantities, which could lead to waste.
“There’s just a whole lack of communication, this whole thing, why would you roll this out and never talk to the nursing homes?” the official said. “It’s just another example of [the state] going off on its own without talking to anyone who runs a nursing home.”