Healthcare workers who are not vaccinated against COVID-19 by Rhode Island’s Oct. 1 deadline will be allowed to work beyond that date to prevent care quality from slipping, the state health department said Sept. 21.
“If there is a risk to quality of care, and an unvaccinated worker must continue to work beyond Oct. 1 to mitigate that risk, the employer has 30 days to ensure that role is fulfilled by a fully vaccinated healthcare worker,” Health Director Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, said in a news release.
Rhode Island’s mandate covers state hospitals, the Rhode Island State Public Health Laboratories and the Veterans Home in Bristol, as well as licensed healthcare providers at all other state facilities. Workers who do not have an approved medical exemption must receive their final dose by Oct. 1 or face 75 calendar days of unpaid leave. Individuals not vaccinated by Dec. 15 will face progressive discipline, up to and including termination.
Rhode Island is among the U.S. states that have announced mandates. President Joe Biden has also announced that his pandemic approach will require COVID-19 vaccinations of workers at organizations with more than 100 employees, federal executive branch workers, and more than 17 million healthcare workers at Medicare- and Medicaid-participating hospitals and in other healthcare settings.
Rhode Island’s overall healthcare facility vaccination rate as of Sept. 21 was about 87 percent, up from 77 percent in early September.