August 24, 2021
The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine received full approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Monday, August 23, 2021. This means that this particular Pfizer vaccine has successfully passed the extensive testing process and regulatory inspections as other established vaccines in existence today. Now that there is a fully approved vaccine for COVID-19, employees of the facilities and communities in which the vaccine mandate has been put into effect, have 60 days to get fully vaccinated as a condition of employment according to the current Heritage Operations Group policy. Again, the current vaccine requirement at Heritage facilities and communities is as follows:
- Starting September 6, all unvaccinated staff must wear an N95 mask.
- Upon FDA approval of any one of the vaccines, all staff will be given 60 days in which to be fully vaccinated as a condition of employment. The vaccine deadline date is set for Monday, November 1, 2021 (gives employees an extra week to get vaccinated). This will allow for two doses of the Pfizer vaccine or the Moderna vaccine or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
- Exempted employees will be allowed to work unvaccinated past the FDA full approval date but, again, must wear an N95 mask (except for Central Office and Green Tree Pharmacy employees in which exempted employees will need to wear a cloth or surgical mask). We will continue to evaluate exemption requests on an ongoing basis. Please send requests to Amy Bauman and Marie Mayer at the Central Office.
- Managed homes: These modifications will apply unless their board of directors indicates otherwise.
NOTE: Last week, President Biden announced a pending mandate that will require all nursing home staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19. This may potentially impact the existing Heritage vaccine mandate however no details nor a timeline have been issued regarding this federal decision.
July 23, 2021
Connie Hoselton and I traveled to many facilities and communities and listened to the thoughts and questions from employees about the vaccine mandate for Heritage facilities and communities. We thanked each one for their unwavering compassion and dedication to our residents. Their concerns and opinions regarding the COVID vaccine requirement have given us reason to re-examine and adjust the original vaccine mandate communicated in May.
Based upon the feedback we received, we have decided to modify the vaccination deadline of Heritage and Green Tree Pharmacy employees until there is full FDA approval for at least one of the vaccines. More details on the modified requirement are as follows:
- On September 6, 2021, employees must provide proof of vaccination or continue to work while wearing an N95 mask until the first vaccine obtains full FDA approval.
- Unvaccinated employees at the Central Office and at the Green Tree Pharmacy will still be required to wear a mask however an N95 mask is not necessary because there are no residents in these settings.
- All vaccinated staff in the facilities and communities will be able to work with no restrictions other than those dictated by IDPH or other regulatory agencies. (Currently, this requires the use of a face mask.)
- Upon FDA approval of any one of the vaccines, all staff will be given 60 days in which to be fully vaccinated as a condition of employment.
- Exempted employees will be allowed to work unvaccinated past the FDA full approval date but, again, must wear an N95 mask (except for Central Office and Green Tree Pharmacy employees). We will continue to evaluate exemption requests on an ongoing basis.
- New hires choosing to be unvaccinated can work while wearing an N95 mask on premises until the first vaccine obtains full FDA approval. Those choosing to be vaccinated, or already vaccinated, will be able to work with no restrictions other than those dictated by IDPH. (Currently, this requires the use of a surgical mask.) Unvaccinated employees at the Central Office and Green Tree Pharmacy will be allowed to wear surgical style or cloth masks as they do not have direct access to residents.
- Managed homes: The modifications to the vaccination requirement will only apply to managed facilities that had previously adopted the policy. Unless their board of directors indicates otherwise these new modifications will apply.
We sincerely hope that this initiative will be supported. Everyone must do their part to stop the continued spread of the COVID-19 virus and its variants in order to protect those who are most vulnerable, our residents, and to ensure a safe workplace for our employees.