34,000 home health aides in New York miss a vaccination deadline and cannot work.

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At least 34,000 home health workers in New York have missed a deadline to get vaccinated under a new state mandate, according to preliminary state data, leaving them unable to work and deepening the shortage of home health aides .

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At the same time, the vaccination rate among home health workers as of Thursday’s deadline — 86 percent — exceeded expectations of some union and industry leaders, and suggested that thousands of workers take their first shot at the last minute to stay put. Decided to take the job. Some industry leaders predicted that at least 70 percent of workers were likely to meet the deadline.

Faced with similar cutoffs last week, hospital and nursing home workers in New York accepted a higher number of shots than home health aides, who are typically slightly above the minimum wage. About 92 percent of hospital and nursing home workers had received at least one shot when their deadline hit Sept. 27.

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Although home health workers have largely remained out of the spotlight during the pandemic, New York state has at least 250,000 of them, with some estimates exceeding 500,000. Deadline applicable for employees of 1,500 licensed home health agencies in the state. Another 30 percent of home health assistants across the state were hired directly by patients through the Medicaid program and were not subject to the mandate.

New York has never previously released data on what percentage of home health aides have been vaccinated, making it impossible to compare with the numbers, which were released Friday.

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The numbers came from the Department of Health surveys of all licensed home care agencies, which asked them to report their vaccination levels on Thursday. Agencies representing some 245,000 workers responded. They reported that on average, 86 percent of their employees were partially vaccinated and 71 percent were fully vaccinated.

The home health care work force in New York has faced sharp shortages that have only been intensified by the pandemic, as has happened in other states. At the same time, the demand for home care has soared as people try to keep their loved ones out of nursing homes, in part because of the poor conditions in the homes that the pandemic has exposed.

Although the loss of workers was not as sharp as feared, some industry leaders warned that losing 5 percent or 10 percent of colleagues in a sector already suffering labor shortages could reduce or eliminate care for thousands of patients. could. Leaders said the loss could also create a backlog of patients in hospitals that usually discharge patients for home care.

Al Cardillo, president of the Home Care Association of New York State, said the percentage alone didn’t tell the whole story. He added that some agencies with high vaccination rates are also losing large numbers of staff that would be difficult to replace.

“I have just received a message from a New York City-area agency that today, in order to comply, 175 home health aides had to be removed from service,” Mr Cardillo wrote in an email. “And this is from an agency that has a 94 percent vaccination rate among allies. One hundred and seventy-five associates in an agency, on top of an already existing emergency shortage, is huge.”

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