- CMS is extending the vaccine deadline for healthcare facilities in 24 states following last week's Supreme Court decision upholding the requirement that 10.4 million healthcare workers must be inoculated against COVID-19.
- Healthcare workers in the 24 states that legally challenged the requirement will now be on a different vaccine deadline than the rest of the nation. For these states, healthcare workers must be fully inoculated by March 15, CMS confirmed with Healthcare Dive.
- But for the healthcare workers in the other 25 states and D.C., which were not a part of the litigation, workers will need to be fully vaccinated Feb. 28, per CMS.
President Joe Biden captured a partial victory in the fight against the novel coronavirus last week when the Supreme Court ruled that healthcare workers at facilities that receive federal funds from Medicare and Medicaid must be vaccinated against the deadly disease.
In a separate ruling last week, the high court blocked the mandate that would have compelled certain employers to require their employees be vaccinated, dismantling a key pillar in the administration's plan to quash the virus.
The ruling comes as hospital workers face a crush of patients amid the latest surge of the virus, once again delaying nonemergent procedures in many regions as facilities are short on staff and resources.
"The bottom line is that vaccine requirements work and are an important tool to protect patients – and also to keep our health care workers healthy," CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure said in a statement following the decision.
Some providers, particularly nursing home operators, are concerned the mandates will exacerbate existing staffing shortages as some workers are unwilling to get the jab.
A previous report in November found that some 30% of healthcare workers at U.S. hospitals remained unvaccinated as of mid September.
Some health systems took it upon themselves to institute their own vaccine mandates, which is not uncommon for facilities as they typically also mandate annual flu shots.
The new vaccine deadlines will not apply to healthcare workers in Texas as the mandate still faces a legal challenge there, CMS said.
The disparate deadlines and Texas' current shield could create confusion for healthcare workers around the country wondering when they need to come into compliance.
The following 24 states need healthcare workers fully vaccinated by March 15: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming.
The remaining states and D.C. need full vaccination by Feb. 28.