New vaccine requirement for nursing homes could increase employee shortage in Georgia

COVID-19 vaccine
COVID-19 vaccine(KLTV)
Published: Aug. 19, 2021 at 6:10 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - Nursing homes will lose federal dollars if their employees do not get vaccinated against COVID. This comes after the Biden administration made the announcement.

“If you work in a nursing home and serve people on Medicare and Medicaid you are also required to get the vaccine,” said President Biden.

President Biden is directing all nursing homes, including 370 in Georgia, to require their staff be vaccinated against COVID-19, to keep receiving Medicare and Medicaid funding.

According to the CEO of the Georgia Health Association, Tony Marshall, there are a few exceptions.

“Hospice, home health, assisted living any other type of healthcare provider,” said Marshall.

Marshall says they have always supported vaccinations. But he says the new rule could create challenges for staffing and more.

“We certainly agree that vaccinations is the right way,” said Marshall .“It would just create a potential issue for us to have an adequate workforce.”

But President Biden says his only goal is to protect people in nursing homes from dying from COVID.

“More than 130,000 residents in nursing homes sadly over the period of this virus passed away,” said Biden.

Nursing homes in Georgia and across the nation are seeing employee shortages and Marshall says they fear employees could be hesitant to get vaccinated.

“[They] will just simply just leave the long-term care profession and just move to other employers,” said Marshall.

The Georgia Health Association says they don’t have specific deadlines for the mandate just yet, but expect to see these changes being enforced in September. However, some hope nursing homes will enforce the vaccination requirement in stages.

“If you do it in a phased in approach, it allows people the time to think through it,” said Marshall.

News Leader 9 reached out to numerous nursing homes in the Chattahoochee Valley and none were available or could comment today about the vaccination requirements for staff.

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