Puerto Rico: COVID-19 boosters required for workers in health and education facilities | Jackson Lewis PC

Amid the increase in positive COVID-19 cases in Puerto Rico, Governor Pedro R. Pierluisi issued an executive order requiring those working in health and education facilities to be vaccinated and boosted. Covered individuals must receive a COVID-19 booster injection no later than January 15, 2022.

Executive Decree 2021-082 applies to “employees or persons working in healthcare establishments (including, but not limited to, hospitals, clinical laboratories, emergency rooms, service clinics) medical centers, health centers, general practitioners and specialist offices, therapy centers, blood banks, pharmacies, retirement homes and medical cannabis dispensaries), whatever their functions “and” the teaching staff and non-teaching, as well as entrepreneurs working in schools, educational centers and universities, public or private ”.

According to the executive decree, individuals are eligible for the recall, if they were either:

  • Vaccinated against COVID-19 using one of the two-dose vaccines approved or authorized by the FDA and six months have passed after their last dose
  • Vaccinated against COVID-19 using FDA-cleared single-dose vaccine and two months have passed since their dose

Individuals who are not eligible to receive a booster injection as of the publication of Executive Decree 2021-082 (December 22), due to a health problem or for any other reason, should receive their booster injection in the 30 days following their eligibility. .

Exceptions

Exceptions are made for medical and religious reasons.

Employees (including contractors in educational institutions) eligible for such exceptions must be tested for COVID-19 at least every seven days using a PCR or antigen test approved by the FDA. The FDA-approved PCR or antigen test should be processed by a licensed healthcare provider.

Employees (including contractors in educational institutions) who request an exception for medical or religious reasons must provide their employer or manager with a negative result at least every seven days.

As an alternative, that person can submit a positive COVID-19 test result received within 90 days of submission, along with proof of recovery, including a letter from a certified healthcare provider or a government health worker certifying that the person has fully recovered. and is ready to appear in public places.

To qualify for a medical exception, employees (or contractors, if applicable) must demonstrate that their immune system is compromised, that they are allergic to the vaccine, or that there is another medical contraindication that causes them. prevent receiving the vaccine or the booster. A physician duly licensed to practice medicine in Puerto Rico must certify the condition. The doctor must also indicate the duration of the medical contraindication and its duration (temporary or permanent). If it is temporary, the employee must obtain the recall as soon as the contraindication ceases to exist.

To qualify for a religious exception, employees (or contractors, if applicable) must submit a certification – their own or with their religious leader – explaining that they may not receive the COVID-19 vaccine due to their sincere religious beliefs, practices or practices. observances. The certification must include: (1) the nature of their objection; (2) an explanation of how meeting the immunization requirement creates a substantial burden or conflicts with their sincere religious beliefs, practices or observances; (3) the length of time they have maintained their sincere religious beliefs, practices or observances; (4) the types of vaccines they oppose; and (5) if they have received any other vaccines recently. The exception will not be provided for for personal, social, economic or political reasons.

Responsibilities of the employer

It is the responsibility of the health care employer or director of education (or his delegate) to ask employees (or contractors, if applicable) for a COVID-19 vaccination card, a Vacu-ID or other document showing that they are fully vaccinated and have received a booster shot.

Where an exception is applicable, the health care employer or director of education must request negative or positive test results, as well as proof of recovery. Employees (including contractors, if applicable) must submit the required evidence, but can provide a digital copy of their immunization record rather than a physical copy.

For religious exception requests, employers should presume that the employee’s request is based on sincere beliefs, practices or observances and may request additional information. The Employer, however, cannot question the reasonableness of such beliefs, practices or observances.

Noncompliance

Employees who do not comply with vaccination or exception requirements cannot physically work at their workplace. Employers can allow these employees to take all applicable leaves, if any.

For entrepreneurs working in the education sector, failure to meet vaccination requirements or exceptions will prevent them from physically working at the contractor’s place of business and, for government contractors, may result in cancellation of their contract.

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In addition to establishing these requirements for healthcare and educational institutions, Executive Decree 2021-082 clarifies that “a multitude of activities” in a previous executive decree means a gathering of at least 500 people. All outdoor or indoor spaces hosting many activities (including theaters, amphitheatres, stadiums, colosseums, conventions and activity centers) must require that all participants provide proof of vaccination and a negative COVID-19 test result, as explained in section 1 (a) of EO-2021-81.

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