DUBOIS – On Nov. 4, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) issued an emergency regulation requiring all healthcare workers to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Jan. 4, 2022.
This federal mandate addresses the risk unvaccinated healthcare workers present to patient safety and is intended to provide stability and uniformity among the U.S. healthcare systems.
This mandate is separate from the vaccine mandate issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which applies to companies with 100 employees or more and allows testing in lieu of vaccination.
Penn Highlands Healthcare is required to follow the CMS mandate and is issuing policies that apply to all employees system wide.
To ensure the health and safety of staff, patients and visitors, all PHH employees must be fully vaccinated by Jan. 4, 2022 unless they qualify for a medical or religious exemption. The CMS vaccine mandate does not allow for weekly testing in lieu of vaccination.
The federal vaccine mandate also applies to individuals who conduct business with the health system including non-employed physicians, students, interns, vendors, consultants, construction and outside laborers, delivery personnel, pharmaceutical representatives, etc. Proof of vaccination will be required upon entry to a facility.
The federal mandate does not apply to patients and their families; however, they are strongly encouraged to be vaccinated, and according to Pennsylvania regulations, must wear a mask when in a healthcare facility.