A May 31 final rule from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) withdraws the COVID-19 vaccination mandate for health care workers. This decision comes as the agency believes that the risks targeted in the mandate largely have been addressed, and it aligns with the agency’s approach to other infectious diseases.
The rule lifts the mandate, which required Medicare- and Medicaid-certified providers and suppliers to ensure that their health care staff completed the COVID-19 primary vaccine series, effective immediately. CMS officials said the decision reflects the May 11 expiration of the public health emergency (PHE) and the determination that the emergency circumstances no longer exist.
CMS emphasizes that lifting the mandate does not signify a decrease in support for vaccination efforts. The agency will continue to encourage ongoing COVID-19 vaccination through quality reporting.
For instance, in the fiscal year 2024 Inpatient Prospective Payment Rule issued in April 2023, the agency proposed that hospitals report the rate of health care personnel with “up to date” vaccination status. “Up to date” includes individuals who received an updated bivalent booster dose, those who received their last booster dose fewer than two months ago, or those who completed their primary series fewer than two months ago.
Further, the withdrawal does not prohibit health care facilities from requiring staff vaccinations. CMS encourages health systems and employers to maintain evidence-based policies for COVID-19 and other communicable diseases.
Contact Senior Director of Policy Erin O’Malley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202.585.0127 with questions.