While federal regulators are officially revoking a nationwide mandate for healthcare workers, including those in nursing homes, to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in early August, employers can’t drop the ball now.

That’s the warning from Erin McLaughlin, an attorney and shareholder for Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney, who specializes in healthcare labor and employment. Overall, McLaughlin sees the shift back to voluntary vaccinations as a plus for nursing homes struggling to hire. 

But some providers may want to hang onto their own requirements, making the new era of staff vaccination ripe for legal challenges. Changing state rules will certainly complicate providers’ efforts in some places.

“If you are in a state which would allow you to have a vaccine mandate for your workers, you’re still going to have to comply with the requirements, under both the Americans with Disabilities Act and Title 7 as it relates to religious accommodations, which have just been expanded by the Supreme Court,” McLaughlin says in this episode hosted by McKnight’s Long-Term Care News Senior Editor Kimberly Marselas.

“You will have to continue to have really good processes and procedures in place to deal with potential accommodations,” she adds.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has also promised to maintain strong data tracking to understand trends in cases and protection for both residents and staff. McLaughlin offers tips on remaining vigilant as both an employer and a caregiving organization.