Thousands of healthcare workers will fail to meet deadline for first COVID vaccination – CBS Denver
DENVER (CBS4)– The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment says it will begin enforcing the state’s vaccine mandate for all health care workers starting Friday. It is estimated that 7,500 caregivers alone are unvaccinated.
The current mandate is that all workers must have their first injection or religious or medical exemption by September 30th.
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The Colorado Health Care Association, which represents 90% of nursing homes, and the Colorado Hospital Association said they had been assured that the state would not take punitive action until the end of October if the second vaccine is required.
But the Department of Health issued a statement Wednesday that caused some panic: “Facilities that don’t comply are breaking the law and employees who don’t get the shot choose to fire themselves.”
Both hospital and nursing home associations warned that having to lay off staff would endanger patient safety. You are already struggling with staff shortages.
On Thursday, Scott Bookman, CDPHE’s Incident Commander for the COVID response, made it clear that the Department of Health cannot force a hospital or nursing home to discharge someone.
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While it can impose penalties, including suspending or revoking a facility’s license, Bookman says the goal is to work with vendors in an impunite manner, and he says enforcement doesn’t happen overnight.
“The health care vaccination mandate will come into force tomorrow. This has implications for state laws and our healthcare regulators will begin enforcing compliance with this law. Our goal is to work with these entities to achieve compliance over time, but the mandate goes into effect tomorrow and we will start collecting this information and working with vendors, ”said Bookman.
The state mandate comes because the federal government is planning to implement a nationwide vaccination mandate for healthcare workers in the next few weeks. The Colorado Board of Health, which issued the regulation, is also considering lowering the compliance threshold to 90% instead of 100% of employees.
Doug Farmer, director of the Colorado Health Care Association, says conflicting messages at all levels of government have been a major source of frustration for nursing homes since the pandemic began.
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“Once again the providers are confused. Some providers think they have until the end of October. Some have heard that no, they only have it to this day. This uncertainty leads to a lot of confusion and fear among people and was avoidable. It would be a huge mistake to try to get 7,500 caregivers fired. Indeed, if they are not vaccinated for the first time today, it would result in at least 4,000 residents being displaced in long-term care and I have no idea where they are being sent, ”Farmer said.