State health council approves expanded vaccine requirement
BOSTON (AP) — The Massachusetts Public Health Council on Wednesday approved a plan to require coronavirus vaccination for all employees at rest homes, assisted living residences and hospice programs, along with workers who provide in-home direct care services.
The council unanimously approved the plan at a public meeting, with members saying it’s an important step to protect vulnerable age groups.
The plan expands on a previous order from Gov. Charlie Baker’s administration requiring vaccination for workers at skilled nursing facilities.
The expanded vaccine requirement was announced Sept. 1 and applies to the state’s 62 freestanding rest homes and 268 assisted living residences, as well as 85 hospice programs and up to 100,000 home care workers. It also applies to contractors who work in those facilities.
Under the plan, workers will be required to receive vaccinations by Oct. 31.
Exemptions will be granted for people with a medical condition that prevents them from receiving a vaccination or with a sincerely held religious belief.
The requirement was previously applauded by the Massachusetts Assisted Living Association, an industry group.
VIRUS BY THE NUMBERS
The number of new cases of COVID-19 increased by more than 1,300 Wednesday while the number of newly confirmed coronavirus deaths in Massachusetts rose by 15.
The new numbers pushed the state’s confirmed COVID-19 death toll to 17,936 since the start of the pandemic, while its confirmed caseload rose to more than 721,500.
There were more than 620 people reported hospitalized Wednesday because of confirmed cases of COVID-19, with nearly 170 in intensive care units.
The average age of those who have died from COVID-19 was 74.
The true number of cases is likely higher because studies suggest some people can be infected and not feel sick.
More than 4.5 million people in Massachusetts have been fully immunized against COVID-19.