Colorado mandates vaccine for health care workers by Oct. 31

August 31, 2021 GMT

DENVER (AP) — Health care workers at facilities including assisted living homes, nursing homes and hospitals in Colorado must be vaccinated against COVID-19 by the end of October under a temporary emergency rule approved the state board of health Monday.

The 6-1 vote during an emergency session came after Gov. Jared Polis requested that the board consider a vaccine mandate.

It applies to staff and contract workers who work with patients or clients at about 3,800 licensed facilities regulated by the board, which also include hospices and community clinics. It does not apply to doctors’ offices or urgent care centers. After Oct. 31, the facilities will no longer be allowed to hire unvaccinated workers.

During a two-hour virtual hearing attended by at least 1,000 people, about twice as many people spoke against the mandate as spoke in favor, The Denver Post reported. Several people suggested workers would end up quitting rather than be vaccinated, worsening staffing shortages.

Workers will be able to seek medical or religious exemptions from their employers. Facilities will be able to ask for waivers from the state to allow less than 100% of their workers to be vaccinated but they must propose a plan to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.