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Conn. Extends Deadline For Long-Term Care Workers To Get Mandated COVID-19 Vaccines

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The state has extended its deadline by three weeks for workers in Connecticut’s long-term care facilities to get a COVID-19 vaccine under a recent state mandate.

Gov. Ned Lamont’s office confirmed Friday afternoon that an executive order requiring employees at nursing homes, assisted living facilities and other kinds of centers to be vaccinated against the virus will now take effect Sept. 27.

Originally, staff and their employers had until Tuesday to comply with the mandate. Workers who remain unvaccinated without a medical exemption risk losing their jobs. Their employers face a fine of $20,000 per day.

State officials did not provide reasons for the extension on Friday afternoon. But federal data as of Aug. 22 show that about 57% of Connecticut facilities have vaccinated at least three-quarters of their staff, leaving the rest to fall below that level.

At a small number of facilities, less than half of all employees are immunized.

Health care workers labor union District 1199 SEIU was among the organizations that have asked the governor for a delay on the mandate and its penalties.

In an Aug. 17 letter addressed to Lamont, union president Rob Baril praised the vaccines but wrote he was concerned that facilities that failed to comply with the mandate by the earlier deadline would suffer staff shortages or be forced to shut down.

“Many caregivers have worked tirelessly through COVID-19, staffing multiple shifts under mandation, working at multiple facilities, and forgoing vacation days altogether,” Baril said. “A fractional reduction of this workforce could prove to be extremely harmful for workers and patients as we try to re-staff facilities with a small pool of certified candidates.”

Lamont signed an executive order Friday night with the mandate’s new deadline. The executive order also revives a program used earlier in the pandemic that allows nursing homes to hire temporary nurse aides to support adequate staffing levels.