The much anticipated vaccine mandates are finally here. On November 4, 2021, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) released an interim final rule requiring COVID‑19 vaccination for all healthcare workers within Medicare and Medicaid‑certified facilities. Eligible staff must receive the first dose of a two‑dose COVID‑19 vaccine or a one‑dose vaccine by December 5, 2021, and must be fully vaccinated by January 4, 2022. The regulation provides for exemptions based on recognized medical conditions or religious beliefs, observances, or practices. Surprisingly, there is no testing exception in the health care setting. Comments are due within 60 days after the date of publication in the Federal Register.
Additionally, the U.S. Department of Labor’s (“DOL”) Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) released an emergency temporary standard (“ETS”)—a type of regulation that takes immediate effect to address “grave dangers” to workers—requiring businesses with 100 or more employees to mandate COVID‑19 vaccinations for their workforces or have workers show a weekly negative test and continue to wear masks. Employees must be fully vaccinated by January 4, 2022. Comments are due within 30 days after the date of publication in the Federal Register.