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COVID vaccine mandated could impact IDD services

With coronavirus numbers continuing to surge, a new Biden administration plan to require many workers across the nation to receive COVID-19 vaccinations could have implications for individuals with disabilities and the people who support them.

“We must increase vaccinations among the unvaccinated with new vaccination requirements,” Biden said. “The measures — these are going to take time to have full impact. But if we implement them, I believe and the scientists indicate, that in the months ahead we can reduce the number of unvaccinated Americans, decrease hospitalizations and deaths, and allow our children to go to school safely and keep our economy strong by keeping businesses open.”

Biden issued orders requiring shots for all federal employees and contractors. In addition, health care workers at hospitals, home health agencies and other settings will need to be vaccinated in order for facilities to participate in Medicaid and Medicare.

According to Disability Scoop, disability advocates have said they’ve been told by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services that this requirement will not extend to providers of Medicaid home and community-based services. However, a different facet of Biden’s plan could affect many of these providers.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration is developing a rule requiring any employer with 100 or more employees to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations or stipulate that any unvaccinated employees be tested weekly.

According to Sean Luechtefeld, spokesperson for the American Network of Community Options and Resources (ANCOR) that rule could affect the “vast majority” disability service providers across the nation. Although details are not yet clear on who exactly will be affected, the movement towards mandatory vaccinations has some service providers who have long struggled to recruit and retain direct support professionals on edge, advocates say.

“We’re already having capacity concerns and this isn’t a workforce that’s getting vaccinated at high rates,” said Nicole Jorwic, senior director of public policy at The Arc.

Sources: Disability Scoop, The ARC of the United States

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