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Baker administration to require COVID-19 vaccinations for long-term care and home care workers

Vials of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP via Getty Images

All staff at rest homes, assisted living residences, and hospice programs, as well as home care workers will be required to get a coronavirus vaccination by Oct. 31, the Baker administration announced Wednesday.

The plan is part of the Baker administration’s effort to protect older adults against the coronavirus, the Executive Office of Health and Human Services said in a statement.

The plan follows an earlier announcement by the Baker administration that vaccines would be required for workers at skilled nursing facilities.

The requirement would apply to 62 freestanding rest homes, 268 assisted living residences, 85 programs and up to 100,000 home care workers, the statement said.


Workers will be required to get vaccinated “unless they qualify for a limited exemption because they have a medical condition that prevents them from receiving vaccination or they object to vaccination based on a sincerely held religious belief,” the statement said.

For rest homes, assisted living residents, and hospice settings, the requirement applies to all those directly employed and contractors who regularly enter the facility.

The requirement for home care workers applies to all individuals providing in-home, direct care who are employed by an agency that is contracted or subcontracted with the state, the statement said. It also applies to independent, non-agency-based care workers contracted with the state.

The plan is subject to approval by the Public Health Council, a panel that advises the state Department of Public Health and promulgates regulations, the statement noted.

Massachusetts assisted living executives urged the Baker administration earlier this month to mandate vaccines for their industry. They said thousands of frail elders in assisted living residences, most of them vaccinated but with weak immune systems, are still vulnerable to infections because many workers in the facilities have yet to get their shots, the Globe reported.


“We applaud this decision to protect everyone in Massachusetts assisted living communities – staff, residents, and their families. While most assisted living staff are vaccinated, this will further reinforce the safe and healthy environment that high rates of vaccination and robust infection control policies have helped us achieve,” Brian Doherty, president and chief executive of the Massachusetts Assisted Living Association, said Wednesday in a statement.

“Many assisted living providers have proactively mandated the vaccine for their staff, and we thank the state for leveling the playing field to ensure that all staff are subject to vaccine mandates, which will help keep residents safe and healthy while also stabilizing the workforce,” he said.

Martin Finucane can be reached at