August 1, 2023
On May 23rd, 2023, The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) updated their guidance regarding qualifications for COVID-19 vaccinations in alignment with the FDA’s updated recommendations from April 18, 2023. The current recommendation is that everyone six years and older get one updated Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, regardless of whether they’ve received any original COVID-19 vaccine. So, what does this mean? If an individual opted not to have one of the original vaccine series or only had the original monovalent vaccines at the time they were offered, they will now only qualify for one of the updated vaccines unless they are over the age of 65 or immunocompromised.
In addition, CMS released a memo on May 1, 2023, that provides guidance on ending the public health emergency (PHE). CMS outlined how COVID-era operations, including interim final rules and regulatory waivers, will be impacted by the end of the PHE, listing key changes impacting nursing homes. Those key changes are summarized below:
COVID-19 Testing Requirements:
Due to the expiration of the PHE, regular testing of staff and residents is no longer required.
The CDC has set guidance on recommendations for testing based on symptoms and exposure, those recommendations can be found here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/guidance-risk-assesment-hcp.html
COVID-19 Educational Requirements:
CMS has stated that LTC facilities must continue to do education and offer COVID-19 vaccines to residents, resident representatives and staff, as well as complete the appropriate documentation for those activities.
COVID-19 Healthcare Staff Vaccination:
CMS is withdrawing the mandated COVID-19 vaccination requirement for healthcare staff. The Final Rules note that individual states, health systems, and healthcare employers may continue to require COVID-19 vaccinations and that workers stay up-to-date on vaccinations. CMS intends to encourage ongoing COVID-19 vaccination through quality reporting and value-based incentive programs.