TAMPA, Fla. — State officials have reported that many long-term care staff members are still declining the COVID-19 vaccine.
However, staff at several Tampa Bay Area assisted living facilities may no longer have the choice.
What You Need To Know
- Starting August 1, American House Senior Living Communities will require staff to get the COVID-19 vaccine
- The company runs 43 facilities nationwide, including 11 in Florida
- The company-wide mandate will include facilities in Lutz, St. Petersburg, and Zephyrhills
- There will be exceptions made for religious beliefs and certain medical conditions
American House Senior Living Communities runs 43 facilities nationwide, including 11 in the state of Florida. Starting August 1, the company will require staff to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
“Keeping our residents and employees healthy and safe continues to be our top priority. Throughout this unprecedented time, our primary focus has been on prevention. While we did not make this decision lightly, we do believe that it is our duty to protect our residents,” said Chief Human Resources Officer Mary Anderson, in a statement provided to Spectrum Bay News 9.
The company-wide mandate will include facilities in Lutz, St. Petersburg, and Zephyrhills, with exceptions made for religious beliefs and certain medical conditions.
A relative of an employee first reached out to Bay News 9 with concerns over the policy, saying several staff members were concerned. We checked in with labor and employment attorney Jennifer Fowler-Hermes, who said the company is within its legal rights to make the vaccine a requirement.
“You’re not required to work at that facility. Just like if you don’t like your supervisor, you can go somewhere else. If you don’t like the hours you can go somewhere else,” Fowler-Hermes said. “And it sounds cold but at the same time your providing healthcare to people’s parents, grandparents.”
On a call last week with members of the Florida Health Care Association, Florida’s Surgeon General Dr. Scott Rivkees reminded providers of just how vulnerable the long-term care population still is.
“We need to be cognizant of the fact that we still don’t have universal vaccination of all of our residents for a number of different reasons, and staff members, if they are not vaccinated, still can get COVID and inadvertently bring it into the facilities,” Dr. Rivkees said.
Still, the FHCA, which represents most of the nursing homes in the state, said it continues to advise members to listen to staff concerns and provide vaccine information rather than making it a requirement.