Frankel proposes bill to ensure vaccination of workers of long-term care facilities

Bill would require workers to receive COVID vaccination when available

PITTSBURGH, Dec. 7 – As it becomes increasingly likely a COVID-19 vaccination program will become available in the near future, state Rep. Dan Frankel, D-Allegheny and minority chair of the Pennsylvania House Health Committee, today indicated he plans to introduce a bill to require workers in long-term care facilities be vaccinated.

Frankel noted that, after widespread misinformation campaigns, measles vaccine hesitancy has led to outbreaks throughout the country of that once-vanquished disease. COVID-19 is far deadlier than measles.

“Vaccines are a modern miracle, and COVID-19 vaccines potentially have the power to restore much of the normalcy that so many of us have lost. What we can’t have happen is for some individuals’ personal choices to leave our most vulnerable populations unprotected,” Frankel said. “My bill would expand the current law that calls for staff at long-term care facilities to get flu and strep vaccines so they are required to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, once it becomes available. This can help us to get back to a time when grandparents could hug their friends and meet their newborn grandchildren in person.”

In a co-sponsorship memo to colleagues, Frankel noted that people in long-term care facilities make up 8 percent of coronavirus cases, but 45 percent of all deaths, and that the Centers for Disease Control has recommended that long-term care be prioritized. His bill would do that and help stop COVID-19 at the door of such facilities by preventing transmission from the outside community. Because not everyone may be medically able to receive the vaccine, the bill would allow a staff member to be exempt only if they can present a doctor’s note indicating the specific nature and probable duration of the medical condition or circumstances for which the doctor does not recommend immunization.

“While we all take steps today to protect ourselves and our loved ones, by wearing masks, social distancing and washing our hands, the legislature must also start working to ensure the rollout of the vaccine can be done safely and effectively,” Frankel said. “I look forward to working with my colleagues, the Department of Health, and Governor Tom Wolf to make sure Pennsylvania has the resource and policies in place to do so.”