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State DOH issues new regulation for nursing home vaccinations

Nursing home
Posted at 7:54 PM, Apr 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-20 08:13:21-04

ALBANY, NY (WKBW) — The New York State Health Department (NYSDOH) is trying to encourage nursing home staff and residents to get vaccinated.

It issued a new emergency regulation late last week that calls for an opportunity for staffers to receive the Covid vaccine by April 29th.

For those who are a new hire or a new admission into a home, the could get vaccinated within two weeks of arrival.

But those who opt out of the vaccination are required to sign a waiver indicating they have declined the shot.

According to the DOH, those facilities that fail to comply with this new rule could be penalized up to $2,000 per violation.

“Nursing home operators have known all along that a COVID vaccine is one of the best ways to protect residents and staff from this dangerous virus. Inexplicably, numerous nursing homes are letting vaccine doses sit on shelves, and that’s why DOH recently enacted emergency regulations requiring nursing homes to offer all consenting, unvaccinated, existing and new personnel and residents an opportunity to get vaccinated. Nursing homes found to be out of compliance may be fined up to $2,000 per violation.”

New York State Department of Health

The DOH said the “regulations require operators to offer unvaccinated existing and new personnel and residents an opportunity to receive the first or any required next dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and to get a signed affirmation from anyone who declines, stating that they declined vaccination and that they understand that they may request it from the facility at a later date.”

The DOH regulation also requires nursing homes to post signage throughout the facility that reminds staff and residents that the facility offers the Covid vaccination.

The DOH also issued the following timeline its outreach efforts to nursing care facilities:

  • On February 24 DOH staff sent information and enrollment packets and began calling nursing homes, through the March 17 association call.
  • On March 8th, Dr. Zucker led a call with owners and operators that had 625 participants.
  • On March 16th , Dr. Zucker made individual calls to nursing homes.
  • On March 17th, Dr. Zucker and Beth Garvey led the call with the associations to see if they could prod their members to pick up the reserved doses.
  • By March 18th, still less than 55% of the allotment that had been assigned for this specific purpose had been picked up by nursing homes.
  • March 17-18, DOH deputized the hub hospitals to take on added responsibilities which include pick-up, delivery, and in some cases administering the vaccine and the hubs started making follow up calls to the homes to schedule the delivery.
  • March 19, DOH again called the nursing homes who hadn’t been responsive to the hub outreach.

Meanwhile at the Heathwood Assisted Living in Williamsville there has been an outbreak of Covid. 10 positive cases reported as of Thursday, April 15th. The facility says seven of the residents had already been vaccinated.

The facility issued this statement to 7 Eyewitness News in response to our request to confirm the cases:

“Heathwood Assisted Living discovered on Thursday April 15th 10 positive resident Covid cases, of which 7 had been vaccinated. All residents remain asymptomatic or have mild symptoms. We continue to be pro-active with infection control, social distancing and wearing masks. To stop the spread, we test staff weekly. Residents will be tested again this week. We managed to keep residents Covid free for 13 months. Based on our experience, we encourage everyone in the community to get vaccinated, wear a mask and socially distance to protect the frail and vulnerable.”

Heathwood Assisted Living