PHHPC Approves COVID-19 Booster Mandate

Booster Mandate Moving Forward

HCP submitted comments in advance of today’s meeting of the Public Health and Health Planning Council (PHHPC) and Special Codes, Regulations and Legislation Committee Meeting. The PHHPC meeting agenda, including the full text of the regulations is available here.

You can review HCP’s written testimony.

On today’s agenda were four items for emergency adoption, including the Booster Mandate language, which amends the previously adopted COVID-19 vaccine mandate for health care workers:

  • 21-14 Addition of Section 2.61 to Title 10 NYCRR, Amendment of Sections 405.3, 415.19, 751.6, 763.13, 766.11, 794.3 & 1001.11 of Title 10 NYCRR & Sections 487.9, 488.9 and 490.9 of Title 18 NYCRR Prevention of COVID-19 Transmission by Covered Entities).

This regulation requires covered entities (including certified home health agencies, long term home health care programs, acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) home care programs, licensed home care service agencies, and limited licensed home care service agencies) to ensure their personnel (anyone, paid or unpaid, who engages in activities such that if they were infected with COVID-19, they could potentially expose other covered personnel, patients or residents to the disease) have received all doses of the COVID-19 recommended by ACIP, including boosters and supplemental doses (this is for immunocompromised people who receive a 3rd initial dose prior to the booster) , and to document evidence thereof in appropriate records.

Covered entities are also required to review and make determinations on medical exemption requests and consider reasonable accommodations for unvaccinated employees that also ensure patient and worker safety.

Documentation and information regarding personnel vaccinations as well as granted exemptions must be provided to the Department immediately upon request.

HCP Support

HCP’s comments about the booster mandate were acknowledged specifically by the committee, who stated that more than 200 submissions were received on the topic. The council noted that many raised the same concerns as HCP - namely, apprehensions about the timing of implementation of this requirement, as well as the impact to providers already struggling with critical levels of staffing shortages.

The council also noted that HCP highlighted the uniqueness of the home care workforce, including its decentralized nature and its culturally diverse composition. Also mentioned were HCP’s concerns about cost increases resulting from the booster mandate, and the need for regulatory relief in order to make staff available for patient care.

While it was very clear that our concerns were heard and understood by the Council, the group did ultimately vote to move these regulations forward. Council Chair Jeffrey Kraut assured attendees that the New York State Department of Health (DOH/the Department) would issue guidance that would clarify the timing and other issues not adequately addressed in the regulation language. Additionally, the Council will provide a compilation of all received comments to the Department.

While “waiting to see” is difficult to do, the lengthy council discussion around challenges already faced by providers and the additional stress this mandate will cause offer hope that DOH guidance will allow additional needed time for compliance.

As of today, we know that these emergency regulations will become effective upon filing with the Department of State and will expire, unless renewed, 90 days from the date of filing.