I’m writing to follow up on Rhode Island’s Immunization, Testing and Health Screening for Health Care Workers regulations.


An emergency regulation that requires healthcare workers in Rhode Island to receive a primary series of COVID-19 vaccine is currently in place, but it is due to expire on March 12th. As I described below, we have proposed updates to Rhode Island’s existing healthcare worker vaccination regulations. The proposed updated, permanent regulations include a COVID-19 vaccination requirement that would allow healthcare workers who are not up to date with their COVID-19 vaccinations to continue to work so long as they wear medical grade N95 masks when transmission rates in Rhode Island are elevated (50 cases or more per 100K people per week).


These proposed, permanent regulations will not become effective for at least several weeks because the public comment period is still open. For this reason, today we promulgated an emergency regulation that would fill the gap and help keep patients and residents safe. The new emergency regulations mirror the changes we have proposed for Rhode Island’s permanent healthcare worker vaccination regulations. Emergency regulations initially remain in place for 120 days, and can be renewed for an additional 60 days, though we anticipate that the new emergency regulation will be replaced by permanent regulations before that time.


As a reminder, these are State-level vaccination regulations. Many individual healthcare facilities also have their own vaccination policies, and vaccination requirements also exist at the Federal level. (For example, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, or CMS, currently has a COVID-19 vaccination requirement in place for workers at facilities that receive CMS reimbursement.)


Joseph Wendelken | Public Information Officer

Rhode Island Department of Health

3 Capitol Hill, Room 401; Providence, Rhode Island 02908