Enforcement will begin Oct. 29 rather than Oct. 1, to give health care workers more time to get fully vaccinated. Meanwhile, the state reports the most new cases in a day since Jan. 22.
Maine is giving health care workers nearly an extra month to get vaccinated against COVID-19, extending the deadline even as the state continues to see a surge in new cases that rivals the pandemic’s midwinter peak.
The state will begin enforcing its vaccine mandate on Oct. 29 rather than Oct. 1 to give health care workers more time to become fully vaccinated and to give health care organizations time to use $146 million in forthcoming funds to address workforce needs, Gov. Janet Mills announced Thursday. The deadline for workers to get immunized is still Oct. 1, but state enforcement of a health care facility’s state license won’t begin until Oct. 29.
“…Malory Shaughnessy, executive director of the Alliance for Addiction and Mental Health Services, led an effort last week seeking more time for health care workers to get vaccinated to try to deal with a potential workforce shortage. Several service providers representing nursing homes, mental health and substance use services, home health care workers and others, asked Mills for a 45-day delay in a letter Aug. 26.
Shaughnessy said Thursday that the social service agencies are in a “precarious” position and are losing workers to places like Starbucks and Walmart. Three nursing homes recently announced they were closing because of staffing issues.
“Providers are going to lose potentially 15 to 25 percent of their staff who will outright refuse the vaccine,” Shaughnessy said. “The extra month is definitely going to be helpful getting them through. We need time to try to find other people.”