Although vaccine mandates may provide relief for some nursing home residents, some nursing homes worry that they may lead to understaffing in Maryland nursing homes and throughout the U.S. A federal vaccine mandate is going in effect, meaning that in many nursing homes, workers will be required to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Currently, 27% of nursing home staff have not been vaccinated, causing some to worry that those staff members will look for another job instead of getting vaccinated. Administrators said that some other healthcare providers who also receive federal funding, such as some hospitals, home health agencies, and community health clinics, do not yet require the vaccine and may provide alternative employment options for those workers.
Maryland’s governor recently announced that all employees at Maryland nursing homes and hospitals must be vaccinated or undergo ongoing screening and testing. Maryland nursing home staff must receive their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by September 1st. If a nursing home fails to comply or to report vaccination compliance, it will be subject to fines, penalties, and enforcement action. About 79% of staff members at Maryland nursing homes have been vaccinated so far.
A Maryland nursing home resident who contracts a communicable disease because of the nursing home’s failure to adequately protect its residents may be able to file a claim against the facility. State and federal regulations require nursing homes to adequately care for and protect residents. Nursing homes must continue to take precautions to help protect residents from contracting COVID-19. Even nursing homes residents who are vaccinated continue to need protection, as many are immunocompromised and may not be fully protected even with vaccines. This means that a nursing home may be liable for failing to take adequate protections to protect a resident from COVID-19. Facilities are still expected to take measures to protect residents, such as routine cleaning, investigating potential cases, isolating COVID-19 positive or suspected positive residents, and screening staff. The facility is also required to record infections and report them to health officials.