On February 7 2013, the State of New York’s Public Health and Health Planning Council added a new regulation requiring all healthcare workers to get a flu shot or wear a service/procedure mask while treating their patients. This new rule came to be known as Title 10, Section 2.59 “Regulation for Prevention of Influenza Transmission by Healthcare and Residential Facility and Agency Personnel”. The rule was added during the Annual Meeting and noted in the committee’s agenda, on page 192.
In July, a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) was published on the Department of Health’s website detailing the new regulations and what healthcare providers and employees need to know.
Important points to note:
- The new regulation will require the use of either a surgical or a procedure mask for personnel not vaccinated against the flu virus during the 2013-2014 flu season.
- Proof of immunization must include at minimum a signed vaccination card or statement from a provider detailing the date given as well as the name and address of the provider.
- Employers must maintain a record of the number and percentage of personnel who are vaccinated for the current season. This information needs to be made available to the DOH upon request at least twice during the season.
- If the individual already had the flu, they are still required to get a vaccine or wear a mask. Since there are different virus strains every season, the flu shot ensures vaccination among the most prevalent strains according to the CDC.
- In addition, if an individual has a medical exemption to the influenza vaccine, they are still required to wear a mask to prevent the virus from being passed along to their patients.
- This rule applies to any healthcare facility, residential facility, agency licensed under Article 28 and 36 of Public Health Law, and hospice established under Article 40 of Public Health Law.
- There is no exact date as to when wearing a mask will be required for unvaccinated employees. Since the flu season begins, peaks, and ends at different times, the Commissioner will likely designate a time frame when the virus is expected to be prevalent across the state or specific geographic areas. Mobile Health recommended that all employees are vaccinated as soon as the vaccines are made available in early fall.
- Visitors and family members of patients are not required to be vaccinated or wear masks. Nevertheless, it is recommended that these facilities have a policy in place to help prevent the virus from being transmitted to the patients.
- This requirement applies to all personnel of a facility and agency who are directly exposed to patients as well as paid or unpaid employees, staff, contract staff, students and volunteers.
Mobile Health is a NYC regional employee screening provider and administrator of the influenza vaccine to individuals and businesses. To assist healthcare facilities in complying with this new regulation, we will have additional flu vaccines in stock and expand our outreach methods including on-site services. The client portal system will be enhanced to help employers track vaccinated employees and have this information available on demand as required by the DOH.
If your facility is interested in help complying with this new regulation, please send us a message and a representative will review some options from your organization. Some options are available at no cost when billable through health insurance.