Massachusetts makes vaccinations mandatory for long-term care workers

Coronavirus

Registered nurse Morgan James loads a syringe with a dose of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine at the Blood Bank of Alaska in Anchorage on March 19, 2021. (Photo by Frederic J. BROWN / AFP) (Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)

BOSTON (WPRI) — In an effort to strengthen infection control and protect vulnerable residents, Gov. Charlie Baker announced Wednesday that all staff at long-term care facilities in Massachusetts must be fully vaccinated by Oct. 10.

“COVID-19 vaccination is the most effective method for preventing infection and serious illness from the virus, and staff at long-term care facilities and other health care providers serving vulnerable populations are critical in efforts to protect older residents,” Baker’s office said in a news release.

There are 378 skilled nursing facilities and two Soldiers’ Homes in Massachusetts. As of Aug. 2, 155 facilities had less than 75% of their staff fully vaccinated, according to the governor’s office.

All unvaccinated personnel are to receive their first dose by Sept. 1 to ensure they can get their second shot and complete the vaccination by the deadline.

To be considered fully vaccinated, a person must be at least two weeks removed from their final dose.

Baker’s office said the Mass. Department of Public Health will enforce the mandate, which includes all individuals employed directly or contracted by a long-term care provider.

Exemptions will be made for those with medical restrictions or “sincerely held religious beliefs.”

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