CMS requires health care workers at participating facilities be vaccinated

November 10, 2021

On November 5, 2021, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued an Interim Final Rule mandating that health care workers at facilities participating in the Medicare and Medicaid programs be fully vaccinated – having received either two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine – by January 4, 2022. Covered facilities must have a process or plan in place that ensures all eligible staff receive their first dose or one-dose vaccine by December 5, 2021.

The facility types covered by the rule are hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers, dialysis facilities, home health agencies and long-term care facilities. The requirement applies to both clinical and non-clinical staff at these facilities, including: employees, students, trainees and volunteers. Additionally, this also includes individuals who provide care, treatment, or other services for the facility and/or its patients under contract. It also applies to physicians admitting and/or treating patients in a facility. 

This regulation does not, however, apply to physician offices (unless part of a larger system) because they are not subject to CMS health and safety regulations. CMS requires covered facilities to accommodate medical and religious exemptions in accordance with federal law. The interim final rule takes priority over other federal vaccination requirements. While the rule goes into effect immediately, CMS will accept comments for 60 days.

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