More about mandatory vaccines

NCPA January 10, 2022

Here’s some information you need regarding OSHA Health Care ETS, OSHA Vaccine and Test ETS, and the CMS mandate.

OSHA Vaccine and Test ETS
As of Jan. 10, if your pharmacy has more than 100 employees company-wide, you are required to implement a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy. For those pharmacies that meet the 100-employee standard, weekly testing requirements will begin Feb. 9, for employees who are not fully vaccinated. OSHA will not issue citations before Feb. 9 for failing to enforce the testing requirements, as long as employers use good faith efforts to comply.

OSHA Health Care ETS
As of Dec. 27, OSHA requires those that fall within the Health Care ETS to follow only the Health Care ETS record keeping requirements because the rest of the Health Care ETS has been withdrawn. OSHA is encouraging continued voluntary compliance with the entire Health Care ETS. Regardless of the number of employees, the Health Care ETS applies, with some exceptions, to settings where any employee provides health care services or health care support services to patients. The Health Care ETS requirements do not apply to pharmacists dispensing prescriptions in retail settings. However, if a pharmacy offers COVID-19 testing or vaccinations, the Health Care ETS requirements are applicable. The Health Care ETS is aimed at protecting workers facing the highest COVID-19 hazards—those working in health care settings where suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients are treated. LTC pharmacies are exempt from the Health Care ETS requirements unless they are situated within an LTC facility as an inpatient pharmacy. Additionally, health care employers with 100-plus employees are also now subject to the Vaccination and Testing ETS.

If your pharmacy has fewer than 100 employees and if you do not provide testing or administer vaccinations, your pharmacy is exempt from the Health Care ETS and the Vaccination and Testing ETS.

CMS mandate
On Dec. 28, CMS published the Omnibus COVID-19 Health Care Staff Vaccination Interim Final Rule Guidance. This rule requires that anyone who provides treatment or other services under contract or other arrangement with health care facilities participating in Medicare or Medicaid programs, such as LTC or skilled nursing facilities, must be vaccinated if they physically enter or are in close proximity to LTC or SNF staff or patients. All individuals who physically enter or are in close proximity to LTC or SNF staff or patients, including pharmacy staff, must have received their first dose of a two-dose or a one-dose COVID-19 vaccine prior to providing any care, treatment, or other services by Jan. 27, with full vaccination by Feb. 28, 2022.

The CMS guidance does not apply to these following states at this time: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

Important notes

  • If you have any immediate questions or concerns regarding either this most recent Vaccine and Testing ETS or the Health Care ETS, contact your local OSHA office.

  • The Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Jan. 7 regarding OSHA's ETS standards and CMS mandate, which might change employer obligations. NCPA will continue to provide updates for pharmacy implications as the information becomes available.