Understanding Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 Interim Vaccination Plan for “Health Care Professional” and Unpaid Caregivers
The novel coronavirus known as COVID-19 has affected nearly all professions, especially right here in Pennsylvania. One of the largest professions that has been impacted are care providers. While many people consider care providers to mean just health care professionals like doctors and nurses, our state also has a significant number of unpaid caregivers providing essential services to thousands of individuals with disabilities, who are elderly, sick, or may otherwise need assistance. Our disability lawyers at Silver & Silver know how important this type of care provider is for many individuals relying on this assistance. Yet, Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 Interim Vaccination Plan originally did not include unpaid caregivers as “health care personnel” eligible for a vaccine. This was largely due to the fact that such caregivers were not being compensated.
However, on January 19, 2021, the Pennsylvania Department of Health updated the definition of “health care personnel” in Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 Interim Vaccination Plan version 5 to include an unpaid caregiver or any individuals “providing services for the elderly and persons with disabilities.” The updated definition now allows any unpaid caregiver the opportunity to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in Phase 1A as “Health Care Personnel.”
This result not only makes sense, but our disability attorneys at Silver & Silver know that it is also safer for both unpaid caregivers and the dependents that rely on them. This is because many of the dependents are in a weakened state and susceptible to severe complications from COVID-19 infections. Yet, most unpaid caregivers may be family members, friends, or other colleagues assisting a loved one. This places unpaid caregivers in a difficult situation as they have to support themselves and their family by continuing to work another job to earn money, while also caring for another individual relying on them without being compensated. This increases the risk of exposure for the caregiver.
By allowing unpaid caregivers to get vaccinated right away, it offers a stronger layer of protection between the patient and the unpaid provider. It is also equitable because unpaid caregivers are performing vital services to help reduce the strain of the already strained healthcare system. It also keeps vulnerable individuals who may be elderly, sick, or disabled out of group homes, nursing homes, elder care facilities, and other establishments that could be breeding grounds for COVID-19 spreading events.
Have Questions Regarding Pennsylvania’s Vaccination Plan? We Can Help
Ask an experienced disability lawyer at Silver & Silver if you have any questions regarding Pennsylvania’s vaccination plan. COVID-19 guidance changes rapidly, including who may or may not qualify for a vaccine. With over four decades of experience, including being one of the first law firms in our areas focusing on social security disability cases, learn how we can help protect your rights and your health if you have any questions regarding SSI, SSDI, or COVID-19 vaccination plans by dialing (610) 658-1900 or by using our convenient “contact us” box available here.