Colorado officials may weaken coronavirus vaccine mandate for health care workers |

Colorado officials may weaken coronavirus vaccine mandate for health care workers

The proposal would require only 90% compliance for hospitals and nursing homes and would give more latitude to religious exemptions

John Ingold
The Colorado Sun

DENVER — Colorado health officials have proposed weakening the state’s coronavirus vaccine mandate for health care workers, meaning some employees at hospitals and nursing homes might be able to remain on the job while unvaccinated even if they don’t have a valid exemption.

The proposal comes after the deadline has already passed for workers to receive their first dose of vaccine, and it is causing chaos at some health facilities that have been having difficult conversations with workers who refused vaccination and would have to leave their jobs as a result.

The proposed changes were floated last week during a meeting of the state’s Residential Care Strike Team, which works to prevent coronavirus outbreaks in health care facilities. Ultimately, it will be up to the state Board of Health to decide whether to approve the changes. The board is scheduled to meet Oct. 21.

Currently, 100% of hospital and nursing home staff must be vaccinated or have a valid medical exemption. Workers had until the end of last month to receive at least a first dose of vaccine.

Religious exemptions to the mandate are allowed under the existing rule but don’t count toward a facility’s compliance with the rule. Instead, facilities with employees claiming religious exemptions must file an application with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment asking for a waiver from the vaccination mandate. The state then has 90 days to review those applications.

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