New Executive Order Requiring COVID-19 Vaccination for Health Care Workers
On August 26, Governor Pritzker issued Executive Order 2021-20, which requires all health care workers to have, at a minimum, the first dose of a two-dose COVID-19 vaccination series or a single-dose COVID-19 vaccine within 10 days after issuance of the Executive Order (by Sunday, September 5). In addition, health care workers must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 within 30 days following administration of their first dose in a two-dose series (by Saturday, September 25). Any health care worker who has not established they are fully vaccinated must be excluded by the health care facility unless they are tested for COVID-19 at least weekly.
“Health care workers” are those persons who 1) are employed by, volunteer for, or are contracted to provide services for a health care facility, or are employed by an entity that is contracted to provide services to a health care facility, and 2) are in close contact—fewer than six feet—with other persons in the facility for more than 15 minutes at least once a week on a regular basis.
Who is excluded from the definition of a “health care worker”?
The term does not apply to any person who is at the facility for only a short period of time, and whose moments of close physical proximity to others are fleeting. An example of this is a contractor making deliveries to a facility where they remain physically distanced from others, or briefly enter to pick up a shipment.
In addition, the term does not include a person who is employed by, volunteers for, or is contracted to provide services for any State-owned or operated facility. However, please be aware that State-owned or operated congregate facilities have separate vaccination requirements.
What counts as a “health care facility”?
“Health care facility” includes any institution, building, or agency, or portion thereof, whether public or private, that is designed to provide health services, medical treatment or nursing, or rehabilitative or preventive care to any person. Facilities that meet this definition include:
- Ambulatory surgical treatment centers
- Physician offices
- Dental offices
- Free-standing emergency centers
- Urgent care facilities
- Birth centers
- Post-surgical recovery care facilities
- End-stage renal disease facilities
- Long-term care facilities
- Specialized Mental Health Rehabilitation Facilities
- Assisted living facilities
- Supportive living facilities
- Medical assistance facilities
- Mental health centers
- Outpatient facilities
- Public health centers
- Rehabilitation facilities
- Residential treatment facilities
- Adult day care centers
What is excluded from the definition of a “health care facility”?
The term does not include any State-owned or operated facilities. However, please be aware that State-owned or operated congregate facilities have separate vaccination requirements.
What qualifies as “fully vaccinated”?
An individual is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after their second dose in a two-dose series, or two weeks after a single-dose vaccine.
What kind of testing is required?
Health care workers who are not fully vaccinated must be tested at least weekly using a test that either has Emergency Use Authorization by the FDA or is operating per the Laboratory Developed Test requirements issued by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Such testing must be conducted on-site at the health care facility, or the facility must obtain proof or confirmation from the health care worker of a negative test result obtained elsewhere. The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) recommends using a PCR test if available.
Who is exempted from the vaccination requirement?
Individuals are exempt from the requirement to be fully vaccinated if:
- Vaccination is medically contraindicated, including any individual entitled to an accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act or any other law applicable to disability-related reasonable accommodation; or
- Vaccination would require the individual to violate or forgo a sincerely held religious belief, practice, or observance.
Are exempted individuals still required to test?
Yes, exempted individuals must undergo weekly testing at a minimum.
Can entities have vaccination or testing requirements that exceed the Executive Order’s requirements?
Yes. In addition, the IDPH may adopt emergency rules to require facilities to conduct more frequent testing than currently required by the Executive Order.