Virus Outbreak Nursing Homes

Eileen Quinn, 98, right, a resident at New Pond Village retirement community, in Walpole, Mass., greets her great-granddaughter Maeve Whitcomb, 6, of Norwood, Mass., left, Sunday, March 21, 2021, at the retirement community, in Walpole. 

(The Center Square) – Just one month after requiring COVID-19 vaccinations for employees in skilled nursing facilities, Gov. Charlie Baker has extended the program to home care workers.

In a Wednesday news release, Gov. Baker announced plans to require vaccinations for those working at rest homes, assisted living residences, and hospice programs, as well as for home care workers providing in-home, direct care services as part of the state’s plan to protect the elderly population against the coronavirus. Workers can opt out for medical or religious beliefs, the release reads.

Affected workers, according to the release, have until Oct. 31 to become fully vaccinated, pending approval of Public Health Council, which meets at 9 a.m. Sept. 8 in Boston.

Tara Gregorio, president of the Massachusetts Senior Care Association, told WBUR the expansion of the COVID-19 vaccine requirements is vital to protecting the senior population.

"The Governor's action today, further expanding the COVID-19 vaccination mandate to include all eldercare workers, is critically important to ensure the safety and well-being of citizens across the Commonwealth, including our vulnerable skilled nursing facility residents and dedicated staff," Gregorio said. "The Governor's announcement will create parity, transparency, and accountability within the entire health care system, which is ultimately to the benefit of consumers and their caregivers."

The directive applies to all individuals employed directly at rest homes as well as contractors who regularly enter the facilities.

For home care workers, the vaccination requirement applies to those who provided in-home, direct care who are employed by an agency that is contracted or subcontracted with the state, the release reads.

Associate Editor

Brent Addleman is an Associate Editor and a veteran journalist with more than 25 years of experience. He has served as editor of newspapers in Pennsylvania and Texas, and has also worked at newspapers in Delaware, Maryland, New York, and Kentucky.