In response to President Biden’s executive order on September 9th calling for a vaccine mandate for most health care workers, At Home Nursing Care is ensuring that our home health agency is fully compliant.

Currently we have a 90% vaccination rate among our care workers, much higher than the industry average which is 40% to 90% depending on the location of the agency and the skill level of the employees. 

Those not vaccinated are only exempt from the new, tougher mandate with a waiver based on disability, such as a previous serious adverse reaction to a vaccine, or a religious waiver. We have asked for those waivers by the end of the month. All staff members continue to wear masks, monitor themselves for any symptoms and practice social distancing.

The agency has ordered COVID-19 antigen tests for employees, although the tests have been found to be less accurate when an employee does not have symptoms. Per Mr. Biden’s executive order, unvaccinated workers will be required to test weekly before reporting to work.

Any positive antigen test will be followed by the more accurate PCR test to confirm. Tests will be performed in our offices initially, then at employee’s homes when they’ve demonstrated to a supervisor that they can accurately perform the test and give the office visual proof of a negative reading.

Not being vaccinated makes a person more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19. There are some breakthrough illnesses for vaccinated people, but the illness tends to be milder.

In San Diego County’s latest report on COVID-19, the case rate for not fully vaccinated residents is 4 times higher than fully vaccinated residents. But the hospitalization rate for not fully vaccinated residents is 51 times higher than fully vaccinated residents.  

Currently more than 54% of Americans are vaccinated. California ranks 16th in the U.S. with the number of residents vaccinated, with just over 57%. 

The President’s executive order led The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to announce that mandatory vaccination that has been required for nursing home workers will be expanded to health services that participate in Medicare or Medicaid. This includes dialysis centers, hospitals, ambulatory surgical settings and home health agencies.

A final rule is expected in October, after CMS collaborates with OSHA, the agency tasked with workplace safety. But CMS is urging all home health agencies to jump on the new vaccination rule immediately to stay in compliance once the final rule is released.