COVID Vaccine Mandate Expands to New York Home Caregivers

As states across the country continue to see significant numbers of COVID-19 cases, the New York State Department of Health has instituted expanded vaccine mandates to now include home health caregivers.  Getting COVID Shot

New Regulations – Timeline and Timing

New York State announced a vaccination mandate for all general hospital and long term care facility staff on August 16, establishing vaccination timelines to go into immediate effect.  The policy was expanded to include additional medical facilities and caregivers on August 26th.

Those covered by the emergency regulations will be required to receive their first dose or have an approved, documented medical exemption by October 7th to be permitted to work, 10 days after health caregivers covered by the original announcement.

The new emergency regulations are in place for the next 90 days and will expire on November 24th,unless they are renewed, modified or a proposal is made to permanently adopt the regulations.

Covered Entities

The new emergency regulations go far beyond general hospital and long term care facility staff to include:

  • Diagnostic and treatment centers, including without limitation community health centers and other federally qualified health centers, dental clinics and dispensaries, midwifery birth centers, and rehabilitation clinics.
  • Certified home health agencies, long-term home health care programs, acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) home care programs, licensed home care service agencies, and limited licensed home care service agencies.
  • Home and in-patient hospices.
  • Adult care facilities.

Covered Personnel

The new regulations are not restricted to patient-facing members of covered entities. Instead, all staff employed by a covered entity, including volunteers and students, must comply with these requirements.

Medical Exemptions

An employee of a covered entity may present a certification from a licensed physician or Certified Nurse Practitioner documenting why the COVID vaccine may be detrimental to their health due to an existing medical condition.

The certificate must explain the nature and the duration of the medical exemption and employers are required to maintain a copy of this document to present to the Department of Health on request.

Covered entities are required to scrutinize any medical exemptions to ensure they follow generally accepted medical principles and have been tasked with the Department of Health to provide reasonable accommodations  to exempt employees, possibly including regular COVID testing, additional PPE, leaves of absence or reassignment to remote or isolated work.

The Department of Health has also suggested that health care providers found to be providing medical exemptions beyond the limited scope of the regulation’s intentions may be referred to the Office of Professional Medical Conduct.

Religious Exemptions

The original Department of Health regulations offered religious exemptions for health care employees, however this policy was removed during the August 26th update.

Religious exemptions to vaccines are not constitutionally required and have been halted during previous public health crisis in the state, including the 2019 measles outbreak in New York City. The Department of Health also highlighted the existing requirements for measles, mumps and rubella vaccinations for New York health care employees and students in public and private schools when announcing this amendment.

Update 9/14/21: Several medical professionals filed a lawsuit on September 13th contesting the removal of religious exemptions in the latest version of the COVID emergency regulations, leading the courts suspend the implementation of these new rules until arguments can be heard in court on September 28th, one day after the new rules were set to go into effect for hospital and long term care employees across the state.


The Department of Health has delegated enforcement of these emergency regulations to employers, requiring covered entities to maintain documentation for every employee’s vaccination status and be able to present this information to the Department on request. The regulations call for the termination of any employee who fails to follow these guidelines by October 7th.

Face Coverings

In addition to these new vaccination requirements, anyone working for or visiting a covered entity will be required to wear a face covering at all times. Covered entities are also required to make coverings available to employees and visitors.

These new rules regarding vaccinations in the medical field have been controversial to some in the medical community, however SelectCare and other home health care providers across the state who have served on the front lines of the pandemic for more than a year will continue to follow state and federal regulations, putting the safety of SelectCare’s staff and patients at the forefront of our decision-making.