Update: Vaccine mandates for workers


December 7, 2021

Photo: -slav-/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

Photo: -slav-/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

Whether you’re a pest control company owner or a pest management professional (PMP), it has not been easy to keep track of the federal vaccine mandates that have been proposed for workers. Litigation has put a stop to their implementation for now.

But Omicron, a new strain of COVID-19 that has been making headlines, may change that. It’s one reason workers in the most populous city in the country are now subject to a vaccine mandate.

NYC Mandate

On Dec. 6, New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio expanded the city’s Key to NYC vaccination program to include employees who work in the private sector. It already covered people who work in the city’s hospitals and nursing homes; private and religious schools; as well as teachers, police officers and firefighters who work for the city, according to a USA Today report. The new mandate will affect approximately 184,000 businesses not already covered by the “Key to NYC” program, the mayor said when he announced the plan. He did not include details on how the mandate would be enforced, although he said it would go into effect Dec. 27 and “additional guidance” would be issued on Dec. 15. Mayor-Elect Eric Adams takes office five days after the mandate goes into effect, and has not yet weighed in on his predecessor’s announcement.

OSHA Mandate

On Jan. 13, the U.S. Supreme Court blocked the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) vaccine mandate. Therefore, companies with federal contract and/or 100 or more employees are not required to comply with the Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS).

On Nov. 4, OSHA issued an emergency temporary standard (ETS) on vaccines and testing. The rule would have covered anyone who holds a federal contract and/or has more than 100 employees. The 100-employee size is per company, not per location. It was supposed to take effect Jan. 4, 2022, but pending litigation put enforcement on hold.

On Nov. 12, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a motion that halted enforcement of the OSHA rule “until further court order.” On Nov. 16, all cases were consolidated in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. On Nov. 17, OSHA halted implementation and enforcement pending litigation. The OSHA rule was not  withdrawn at the time. If court cases were unsuccessful, the deadlines for compliance likely would have been updated, says Ashley Amidon, VP of Public Policy, National Pest Management Association. Companies were advised at the time to consider how they would comply with the ETS if the stay was lifted and the rule enforced.

The rule stated employers must create and enforce a written COVID-19 policy that either requires all employees be fully vaccinated effective Jan. 4, 2022, or all unvaccinated employees submit to specific types of weekly testing and wear a mask beginning Dec. 5, 2021. This date would have been updated if court cases were unsuccessful. Employers must inform employees of these policy changes, and distribute “Key Things to Know About COVID-19 Vaccines.”

Employees must have received either two doses of Moderna/Pfizer or one dose of Johnson & Johnson at least two weeks before Jan. 4. If a person received one shot of one vaccine and a second shot of a different vaccine, then the second shot must have been administered 21 days before Jan. 4. Again, this date would have been updated if court cases were unsuccessful.

The OSHA ETS would have preempted state rules, except in states that had their own OSHA-approved workplace agencies. If you live in a state that prohibits vaccine and/or mask mandates, you must abide by the OSHA rule, if it had prevailed in court. For more details, visit the U.S. Department of Labor’s Frequently Asked Questions page.

CMS Mandate

On Jan. 13, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) may go forward in the states where it was challenged. The ETS covers staff members who work at or service the facilities listed below. The new compliance deadlines are Jan. 28 for receiving the first shot of a two-shot vaccination or the single-shot vaccination; and Feb. 28 for receiving the second shot of a two-shot vaccination.

On Nov. 4, CMS released an ETS covering those who work at or service healthcare facilities, regardless of company size. The rule would pertain to you if you service any facility that takes payments from Medicare or Medicaid, including hospitals, nursing homes, long-term care facilities, dialysis centers, ambulatory surgical centers, home health agencies, rehabilitation facilities, specialized medical providers, in-home care providers, hospices, and mental health providers. The rule would not directly apply to other healthcare entities, such as physician offices, that are not regulated by CMS. The CMS rule was supposed to go into effect Jan. 4, 2022, and unvaccinated workers were to have received their first shot by Dec. 5.

On Nov. 29 and 30, several states challenged the rule in court, and a nationwide preliminary injunction against its implementation and enforcement was issued. CMS suspended activities related to the implementation and enforcement of this rule pending litigation. For more details, see CMS’ Vaccination Interim Final Rule.


About the Author

Headshot: Diane Sofranec

Diane Sofranec is the senior editor for PMP magazine. She can be reached at dsofranec@northcoastmedia.net or 216-706-3793.

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