As many as 50,000 home health care workers in NY may be fired over refusal to get the Covid vaccine
Tens of thousands of home healthcare workers in New York who refuse to get a COVID-19 vaccine are facing being fired as the state’s new mandate goes into effect on Friday.
About 250,000 people who work at assisted living homes, hospice care, treatment centers and AIDS home care programs, have until midnight to prove they have received at least one dose of the vaccine or risk termination.
Some industry representatives say as many as one in five still haven’t gotten their first shot – meaning 50,000 could lose their jobs.
The mandate, put in place by Gov Kathy Hochul, comes on top of another mandate, implemented last month, that covered hospital and nursing home workers.
A new Covid vaccine mandate goes into effect in New York on Friday for home health care workers such as employees of hospice care and treatment centers with employees having until midnight to prove they have been vaccinated or risk being fired. Pictured: Monique Iskarous (left) a dentist receives the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in Anaheim January 2021
Some estimates have suggested that as many 50,000 out of the state’s 250,000 workers have been immunized. The vaccination rate temporarily increased after the mandate went into effect for hospital workers
New York has kept up-to-date data on how many hospital and nursing home workers have been vaccinated since the start of the rollout.
As of Friday, 89 percent of hospital employees and 97 percent of those working in long-term care facilities have been immunized
But state officials have not been closely tracking the vaccination status of home health aides.
This means it is not clear how far New York is from reaching 100 percent.
It was unclear early Friday whether home health agencies were having to suspend or lay off large numbers of workers.
Some estimates have suggested that as many as 50,000 home health workers remain unvaccinated.
Joe Pecora, vice president of the Home Healthcare Workers of America, recently estimated that nearly 70 percent. of the group’s 32,000 members had received the COVID-19 shot.
‘We need more time,’ Pecora told The New York Times.
‘It’s unrealistic to get all these people vaccinated by the deadline.
Meanwhile, the Visiting Nurse Service of New York, the state’s largest home health care agency, says 90 percent of employees have been vaccinated and it is looking like about 400 workers will lose their jobs.
‘Even a small percentage of home care workers no longer working will impact thousands of homebound individuals,’ Dan Savitt, president and CEO of the Visiting Nurse Service of New York, told The Times.
‘The rough math here is for every one percent of full-time aides unavailable, there are about 1,500 Medicaid members that will be impacted.’
Gov Kathy Hochul has said the mandates for health care workers protect vulnerable New Yorkers from being infected by unvaccinated caregivers. Pictured: Hochul speaks during a ceremony to sign a package of bills to combat the opioid crisis in New York, October 2021
When the hospital mandate went into effect, medical centers across the state did have to lay off staffers who refused the shots, but a last-minute rush of reluctant workers to get vaccinated prevented large-scale staff shortages.
Hochul, a Democrat, has said the mandates for health care workers are needed to protect vulnerable New Yorkers from being infected by unvaccinated caregivers.
Many of the deaths in the state’s nursing homes during the worst months of the pandemic in 2020 have been blamed on infected staff unknowingly spreading the virus to already fragile patients.
The state’s mandate is set to expand again on November 1 to cover workers who work in state-run facilities offering health care to individuals living with developmental disabilities or mental health needs.
Court challenges aimed at overturning the mandates have, so far, failed, but a federal judge has temporarily allowed health care workers to request a religious exemption from vaccination while the legal fights play out.