needle in vaccine vial

A Department of Veterans Affairs mandate for frontline healthcare workers to get vaccinated or face possible termination of employment could be a test for the long-term care industry, according to one association.

“We’re mandating vaccines for Title 38 employees [physicians, dentists, podiatrists, optometrists, registered nurses, physician assistants, expanded-function dental auxiliaries and chiropractors] because it’s the best way to keep veterans safe, especially as the delta variant spreads across the country,” Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough said in a press release Monday. “Whenever a veteran or VA employee sets foot in a VA facility, they deserve to know that we have done everything in our power to protect them from COVID-19. With this mandate, we can once again make — and keep — that fundamental promise.”

Colorado Health Care Association and Center for Assisted Living President and CEO Doug Farmer said his organization will be watching.

“We can see what happens in their experience,” he said. “Do they get to 100%? Are they able to do that without losing staff members and keep operating and providing care? I think if that’s what we see, that will provide comfort to other organizations to do the same.”

CHCA is the state affiliate of the American Health Care Association / National Center for Assisted Living.

The Biden administration’s support of a vaccine mandate at the VA represents a shift in tone.

Further, long-term care operators and other types of businesses could be affected by information in a CNN news report, which stated that “[a]dministration lawyers have prepared a legal opinion that could pave the way for further federal agencies or businesses to require vaccines among their employees.”