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Hochul expands vaccine mandate to include staff in OMH & OPWDD hospital settings


Tue, Oct 5th 2021 05:40 pm

Requires OMH psychiatric hospitals, OPWDD-certified specialty hospital employees to have at least one vaccine shot by Nov. 1

Gov. Kathy Hochul on Tuesday announced the plan to expand the health care worker coronavirus vaccine mandate to include employees who work in certain facilities offering health care to individuals served by the Office of Mental Health and the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities. Under the new directive, staff who work in settings that treat some of the most vulnerable New Yorkers will be required to show proof of at least the first shot of a COVID-19 vaccine series by Nov. 1, without a test-out option. Ahead of that requirement, staff in these settings will be required to submit to weekly testing, if unvaccinated, beginning Oct. 12.

"Vaccine requirements work in getting people to do the right thing, and all professionals in health settings must take every basic precaution against COVID-19 – including the vaccine – so they do not spread the virus to the people coming in for treatment," Hochul said. "We have an obligation to extend this assurance to those who need to receive mental health services and special care, which is why we are making the vaccine mandatory for all staff who work in these facilities that fall under state jurisdiction."

The vaccine requirement that went into effect on Sept. 27 applied only to covered personnel at facilities regulated by the Department of Health, including all hospitals and nursing homes. On Oct. 7, the vaccine requirement will take effect for covered personnel at additional facilities regulated by the Department of Health, including adult care facilities, home health agencies, long-term home health care programs, AIDS home care programs, hospice care, and diagnostic and treatment centers.

This new requirement, established within OMH and OPWDD agency regulations, will apply to all individuals working at the psychiatric hospitals in the OMH network, as well as those working at the specialty hospital certified by OPWDD.

Hochul plans to continue expanding the vaccine requirement into the human service and mental hygiene care settings in the coming weeks, while also taking necessary steps to ensure staffing levels continue to be appropriate across those service systems.

OMH Commissioner Dr. Ann Sullivan said, "Many of the people OMH serves have underlying medical conditions that make them far more vulnerable to the COVID-19 virus. The vaccine has proven to be safe and effective and will protect our patients and employees as well as our families and communities. I urge everyone to get the vaccine and I applaud Gov. Hochul for extending the mandate."

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