ELLSWORTH — All health-care workers in Maine must be vaccinated against COVID-19, Governor Janet Mills announced on Aug. 12. The emergency ruling comes through the Maine Department of Health and Human Services and Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention and is effective as of Oct. 1.
“It’s an aggressive but an achievable timeframe,” Mills said.
Mills said the emergency rule was driven by increasing positive cases in the state along with hospitalizations related to COVID-19, in particular the highly infectious and severe Delta variant.
She noted that the “universality” of the requirements across hospitals, multi-level health-care facilities, home health agencies, nursing facilities, residential care facilities and intermediate care facilities for individuals with intellectual disabilities that are licensed by the state of Maine, emergency medical service organizations and dental practices means that workers cannot leave one facility that requires staff vaccinations for one that does not.
“There won’t be any place to go,” Mills said.
The only exemption allowed is for medical reasons, which is the same as other vaccinations required for health-care workers, said Dr. Nirav Shah, executive director of the Maine CDC.
Health-care facilities are required to report staff vaccinations. The most recent COVID-19 vaccination rates among health-care workers stand at 80.3 percent for hospitals, 73 percent for nursing facilities and 68.2 percent at intermediate care facilities for individuals with intellectual disabilities.
More than 80 percent of Maine residents over the age of 18 have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.