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

Today, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued an interim final rule with comment period (IFC) relating to 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 includes infection control requirements that must be met by facilities that participate in the Medicare and Medicaid programs.


In an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health and safety of workers and residents, 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 contains an amendment to 42 CFR § 483.80 with a new paragraph (d)(3)(iii) requiring long-term care facility residents or their representatives have ample education about vaccination against COVID-19. Additionally, after receiving the necessary education, residents or their representatives have the right to decline vaccination.


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.

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