CMS Updates COVID-19 Vaccine Requirements for Long-Term Care Facilities Participating in Medicare and Medicaid Programs

nurse administering vaccine to nursing home worker

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Today, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced an interim final rule with comment period (IFC) involving the COVID-19 vaccine in long-term care (LTC) facilities and intermediate care facilities for people with intellectual disabilities, including residents, clients, and staff. The IFC contains rules for infection control that are required for facilities that participate in the Medicare and Medicaid programs.

To lessen the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health and safety of residents and workers, LTC facilities must provide education about COVID-19 vaccines and offer these vaccines, when available, to all residents, clients, and staff. Facilities must also report the vaccination status of residents and staff to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Most notably, this IFC includes an amendment to 42 CFR § 483.80 with a new paragraph (d)(3)(iii) mandating LTC facility residents or their representatives have sufficient education about vaccination against COVID-19. Additionally, after getting the necessary education, residents or their representatives have the right to decline inoculation.

From the CMS rule:

“Explaining the risks and possible side effects and benefits of any treatments to a resident or their representative in a way that they can understand is the standard of care, and a patient right as specified at § 483.10(c)(5). In LTC facilities, consent or assent for vaccination should be obtained from residents and/or their representatives as appropriate and documented in the resident’s medical record. The residents or their representatives have the right to decline the vaccine, based on the resident’s rights requirement at § 483.10(c)(5) (regarding the resident’s right to be informed of risks and benefits of proposed care). It is important to talk to residents and representatives to learn why they may be declining vaccination on their own behalf, or on behalf of the resident, and tailor any educational messages accordingly. Residents may not be forced or required to be vaccinated if the person or their representative declines.”

Read the full document by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services from the Federal Registrar.