The health department issued new guidelines Thursday evening requiring nursing homes to provide the “opportunity to receive” vaccine to all consenting residents and staff by April 29 and within two weeks of a new one. hiring or re-admission, records obtained by The Post show.
Staff and residents who withdraw will be required to sign documents attesting to their refusal.
Facilities that violate the new rules can be fined up to $ 2,000 per violation, the DOH said.
“They’re trying to get people vaccinated and they’re trying to entice them,” said Michael Balboni, executive director of the Greater New York Health Care Facilities Association, of the new requirement.
Only 60% of workers at state facilities have been vaccinated since December – and only 56% of staff in the five boroughs have received the vaccine, according to the latest vaccination figures from the DOH.
In comparison, 80% of nursing home residents statewide have been vaccinated and 73% of the city have received the vaccine.
“The residents aren’t the problem, it’s really the low vaccination rates with the staff,” Balboni said.
“There are healthcare workers who are scared of getting vaccinated, period. How do you convince them that it is in the best interest of themselves and their families? It’s something everyone is still trying to figure out.
A DOH spokesperson said “emergency” regulations were needed to ensure that no vaccine is wasted and that anyone who wants to be vaccinated is easily able to do so.
“Nursing home operators have always known that a COVID vaccine is one of the best ways to protect residents and staff from this dangerous virus,” the spokesperson wrote in a statement.
“Inexplicably, many nursing homes let vaccine doses sit on shelves, and that’s why the DOH recently passed emergency regulations requiring nursing homes to provide all staff with and willing, unvaccinated, existing and new residents, the opportunity to be vaccinated.
An official at the nursing home claimed the guidelines were released without enough consultation – and argued that they fail to take into account the challenges facilities will face in complying with the rules.
“The problem is that nursing homes are struggling to get vaccinated,” the source said.
The source said the 14-day rule will be difficult to adhere to as nursing homes will depend on pharmacies, counties and other entities to make doses available.
It is also difficult for facilities to access smaller amounts of vaccine, which could lead to waste, they noted.
“This is just another example of [the state] fend for yourself without talking to anyone who runs a nursing home, ”the source lamented.
The source said the recent exodus of DOH staff members has compounded the problem and many of the state’s top health experts have left.
“There’s just a lack of communication, all that stuff, why would you want to roll this out and never talk to nursing homes?” they know
The DOH said it made numerous attempts in February and March to raise awareness among nursing homes and said some facilities were not responding.