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The Home Care Association of New York State said a New York Times report underestimated the number of home care workers who missed last Thursday’s state COVID-19 vaccination deadline.

In a report published over the weekend, the newspaper estimated 34,000 home care workers remained unvaccinated last Thursday when the state’s vaccine mandate for home care workers took effect at midnight. But New York HCA President Al Cardillo challenged that number in a status update to members Monday. 

“HCA suspects the 34,000 may be understated because, throughout the week, the state Department of Health (DOH) was sending HCA lengthy lists of providers who had yet to reply to the state’s recent vaccination-related HERDS Survey, and had asked for the Association’s assistance with outreach to the listed providers,” the update said.   

Cardillo also questioned whether The New York Times estimate took into account workers who got a temporary exemption for religious purposes due to a temporary court order.

The update pointed out the “unintended consequences” of the mandate, such as the large number of patients who have lost aides. 

“In gauging the impact of these 34,000 unvaccinated/out-of-service aides is a compounded number of patients affected by the loss of each of these aides,” the update said. “The impacted patient number is perhaps two to four, and in some cases five times the number of aides depending on the practice patterns in the region for number of patients per aide.”

HCA has been at odds with Governor Kathy Hochul (D) over the implementation of the vaccine mandate. The association asked the governor’s office for a slower phase-in for the required shots in order to avoid a so-called vaccination cliff that would leave providers with a dearth of workers to meet the growing demand for home care.

In the status update, Cardillo said HCA had reached out to the governor’s office again over the weekend to encourage a phased-in approach to vaccinating those home care workers who still haven’t received their shots.

The New York Times estimated approximately 86% of New York’s home health workers had been vaccinated by the end of last week. Cardillo told McKnight’s Home Care Daily Pulse the HCA is surveying its own members on vaccine uptake and hopes to release the results later this week.

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