woman holding up COVID-19 vaccination card

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After a federal appeals court on Saturday temporarily blocked the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s COVID-19 vaccination requirements, senior living advocates say they are encouraging providers to be ready to implement them.

The emergency temporary standard was issued Thursday for U.S. companies employing 100 or more workers. The standard, which could become permanent and include smaller companies, calls for employers to implement a workplace COVID-19 vaccination requirement or require employees to undergo weekly testing and wear a face covering. It also requires those employers to provide employees with paid time off to get vaccinated and paid leave to recover from side effects. 

A three-judge panel on the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals said the petitioners “give cause to believe there are grave statutory and constitutional issues with the mandate.” The government has until 5 p.m. Tuesday to respond.

A LeadingAge spokesperson told McKnight’s Senior Living that it is “encouraging members to familiarize themselves with the rule, determine whether it applies to their organization(s), and be ready to implement the requirements if it survives the legal challenges.”

A spokeswoman from the American Health Care Association / National Center for Assisted Living said that the groups will be monitoring legal challenges to the standard.

“In the meantime, we will continue to help member providers potentially impacted by the standard understand the federal policy and be prepared to implement it, should it move forward,” she said.

Senior living leaders previously expressed concerns about the effect of the stipulations on the industry’s workforce, saying that a weekly testing option would help operators retain some vaccine-hesitant employees.

The OSHA mandate also faces lawsuits — or the promise of lawsuits — from at least 26 Republican-led states. The administration has said that it remains confident that the requirements, which carry potential penalties of nearly $14,000 per violation, will withstand these legal challenges.