Wednesday, March 10, 2021
It was only a matter of time, once the COVID vaccines became available, that we saw this question being discussed. Can Long-Term Care Employers Require Staff Members to Be Vaccinated? was the subject of a recent article in the New York Times.
It’s a question that many long-term care employers, from individual families to big national companies, are confronting as vaccines become more available, although not available enough: In a pandemic, can they require vaccination for those who care for very vulnerable older adults? Should they?
Some employers aren’t waiting. Atria Senior Living, one of the nation’s largest assisted living chains, has announced that by May 1 all staff members must be fully vaccinated.
These requirements are not without controversy. How many employers will mandate this remains to be seen. Think about this in the long term care setting, where employees are in close and frequent contact with vulnerable residents. The article offers this interesting info:
Experts say it is probably legal for employers to make vaccination a condition of employment. The federal Equal Opportunity Employment Commission has agreed, so long as mandates permit health and religious exemptions. A University of Pennsylvania analysis found last fall that nationally, about half of American adults would consider employer mandates acceptable.
One expert mentioned that these vaccines were approved under an emergency mandate, and are not yet approved by the FDA, although that is expected to be coming soon. As far as the mandate, this expert offered this view "Ethically ... it’s entirely justified. People have the right to take chances with their own health, but they absolutely do not have the right to endanger others.”
The article discusses incentives employers may offer to get more folks vaccinated and the challenges in getting direct-care workers vaccinated.
PS-for those who are members of ASA, this issue was part of a podcast offered in February for members