State Expands Vaccine Requirement for Long-term-care Providers, Home-care Workers

BOSTON — The Baker-Polito administration announced plans to require COVID-19 vaccination for all staff at rest homes, assisted-living residences (ALRs), and hospice programs, as well as for home-care workers providing in-home, direct-care services. The plan to expand the vaccine requirement for caregivers is subject to Public Health Council (PHC) approval and is part of the administration’s continued effort to protect older adults against COVID-19. Last month, the administration announced a vaccine requirement for employees of skilled-nursing facilities.

Following PHC approval, the requirement would be implemented through the respective DPH and EOEA regulations that would cover 62 free-standing rest homes and 268 assisted-living residences in Massachusetts, 85 hospice programs, and up to 100,000 home-care workers across the Commonwealth, subject to regulatory requirement.

All personnel at rest homes, ALRs, and hospice programs, as well as home-care workers, will be required to receive the COVID-19 vaccination by Oct. 31 unless they qualify for a limited exemption because they have a medical condition that prevents them from receiving vaccination or they object to vaccination based on a sincerely held religious belief.

For rest homes, ALRs, and hospice settings, the requirement applies to all individuals employed directly by the provider or facility as well as contractors who regularly enter the facility.

The vaccination requirement for home-care workers applies to individuals providing in-home, direct care who are employed by an agency that is contracted or subcontracted with the Commonwealth, including:

• Home-health agencies enrolled in the MassHealth program;

• Home-care agencies providing services under the state’s home-care program;

• Continuous skilled-nursing agencies enrolled in the MassHealth program; and

• Hospice programs (including hospice facilities and agencies that provide services in homes) and group adult foster-care agencies enrolled in the MassHealth program delivering personal-care services that assist individuals with eating, toileting, dressing, bathing, transferring, and mobility.

The vaccination requirement also applies to independent, non-agency-based home-care workers contracted with the state providing in-home, direct care, including:

• Independent nurses enrolled in the MassHealth program

• Personal-care attendants providing services through the MassHealth program; and

• Consumer-directed care workers providing services under EOEA’s self-directed program.