Wednesday September 1, 2021
On August 26, 2021, the Public Health and Health Planning Council held a Emergency regulation Health workers must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The Emergency Ordinance is effective immediately and will remain in effect for 90 days, subject to review and renewal.
The Emergency Ordinance replaces the Section 16 ordinance issued by the New York Department of Health (“DOH”) August 18, 2021, which mandates the vaccine for staff in general hospitals and nursing homes.
The Emergency Ordinance extends the mandate to the staff of facilities beyond general hospitals and nursing homes, and also includes diagnostic and treatment centers, public health centers, rehabilitation centers, birth centers, adult care facilities, certified home health authorities, hospices, long-term home health care programs, AIDS home care programs, licensed home care services and limited Licensed Home Care Services (collectively, “Covered Entities”). Under the regulation, insured personnel is defined as: “Any person employed or affiliated with an insured entity, whether paid or unpaid, including, but not limited to, employees, medical and nursing staff, contract staff, students and volunteers who are to participate in activities in which, in the event of an infection with COVID-19, they could potentially expose other insured employees, patients or residents to the disease. “
The companies recorded must continuously demand that staff are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Hospitals and nursing homes must require their current staff to receive the first dose of the vaccine by September 27, 2021. For the purposes of this regulation, “Fully Vaccinated” is determined by the department in accordance with applicable federal guidelines and recommendations. All other healthcare facilities must require their current staff to receive the first dose of the vaccine by October 7, 2021. and location of the vaccine or vaccine clinic.
In particular, the Emergency Ordinance removed the righteous religious belief exemption contained in the proposed Emergency Ordinance and Section 16 Ordinance. The emergency ordinance provides for a medical exception, provided that it is supported by a certificate from a licensed doctor or a state-approved nurse who believes that the obligation to vaccinate would damage the health of the person due to a previous illness. Affected companies are required to document all medical exceptions, including the type and duration of the medical exception, as well as reasonable precautions, in a person’s medical record, which is kept separate from the general personnel record, and to ensure that this documentation is immediately available upon request from DOH .
In addition, the Emergency Ordinance requires the companies covered to develop and implement a policy and procedure to ensure that insured personnel are vaccinated against COVID-19 and to ensure that this policy and procedure are available to the DOH upon request . The Emergency Ordinance also requires that the recorded companies report the number and percentage of all recorded personnel at the request of the DOH; the number and percentage vaccinated against COVID-19; and those who have been granted a medical exemption, along with all reasonable precautions.
Finally, the Emergency Ordinance provides that “[t]The department may require that all employees, whether vaccinated or unvaccinated, wear appropriate face covering for the environment in which those employees work in a sheltered facility. The companies covered provide the face coverings prescribed in this section at no cost to the staff. “
© 2021 Epstein Becker & Green, PC All rights reserved.National Law Review, Volume XI, Number 244