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The Details in Biden’s New COVID-19 Vaccine Rules

Administration Sets January 4 Compliance Deadline

November 04, 2021

The Biden administration released its COVID-19 vaccine rules covering more than 100 million workers across the U.S., including 17 million employees in health care settings.

The two rules came from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

The CMS rule would apply to about 76,000 health care facilities participating in the Medicare and Medicaid programs. The OSHA rule would apply to employers with 100 or more workers, covering about 84 million employees.

“Today’s action addresses the risk of unvaccinated health care staff to patient safety and provides stability and uniformity across the nation’s health care system to strengthen the health of people and the providers who care for them,” CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure said in a statement today.

Here are a few of the key details from the new rules:

  • January 4 is the compliance date:  Employees covered under the OSHA and CMS rules and federal contractors will need to have their final vaccination dose by January 4, 2022
  • Vaccine details:  Workers can opt to complete a two-dose series of either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines, or the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine
  • Who’s covered?:  In the CMS rule, the vaccination requirement applies to eligible staff working at facilities participating in the Medicare and Medicaid programs, regardless of clinical responsibility or patient contact. Workers who provide services 100 percent remotely and who do not have any direct contact with patients and staff are not subject to the requirements
  • No testing opt-out for health care workers:  Unvaccinated employees in non-health care settings must produce a negative test on at least a weekly basis and wear face coverings. In a media briefing, senior CMS administration officials said there was a “higher bar for health care workers,” given their role in patient safety, and that they must get vaccinated or pursue an exemption
  • Booster doses:  Staff do not need to receive a booster dose to meet the federal requirements

CMS has provided online resources for health care facilities outlining some of the frequently asked questions about the new rule.

Throughout 2021, Pennsylvania hospitals and health systems have been at the center of the public health mission to administer the COVID-19 vaccine across the commonwealth. Earlier this year, the HAP Board of Directors unanimously approved a consensus position on COVID-19 vaccine policies, while urging all eligible Pennsylvanians to get vaccinated.

For more information, contact Laura Stevens Kent, HAP’s senior vice president, advocacy and external affairs, or Jolene Calla, Esq., HAP’s vice president, health care finance and insurance.