New York Begins Repeal of Healthcare Worker COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate

The New York State Department of Health (the “Department”) announced on May 30, 2023, that “it has begun the process of repealing the COVID-19 vaccine requirements for workers at regulated health care facilities.”

The requirement once served as critical public health tool. The Department now states that “the changing landscape of the COVID-19 pandemic and evolving vaccine recommendations” guided its decision to repeal the vaccine mandate. This now heads to the Public Health and Planning Council (PHHPC) for approval. In the meantime, the Department has stated in a Dear Administrator Letter that it will no longer be citing providers for failing to comply with the vaccine requirement, signaling that PHHPC approval is likely. Many of the COVID-19 rules and regulations are slowly being eliminated, but employers should be aware that some laws, including New York’s COVID-19 sick leave law, remain in effect.

The federal vaccine mandate for health care providers and suppliers, however, currently remains in effect and is enforced by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). While the White House has indicated it will reverse the mandate, it has not taken meaningful steps to do so. All facilities subject to CMS oversight must continue to follow federal guidelines for the time being.

Once both mandates are repealed, covered facilities will continue to have authority to implement their own internal policies and regulations regarding COVID-19 vaccination. All providers should consult legal counsel prior to modifying or removing policies concerning COVID-19 vaccination. We will continue to monitor and report on significant developments, including when the mandates have officially been eliminated.

Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.