As they do now, patients would have the option of declining the vaccine. The guidance applies to short-term acute-care, psychiatric, rehabilitation, long-term-care, children’s and cancer hospitals, critical-access hospitals, rural health clinics, federally qualified rural health centers, and end-stage renal disease facilities that offer dialysis services.
“The new requirements would make flu shots available in more of the healthcare facilities that Medicare beneficiaries are most likely to visit, including hospitals and rural health clinics,” CMS Administrator Dr. Donald Berwick said in a news release.
According to the rule, healthcare providers and suppliers would need to develop policies and procedures to offer and administer the vaccine. Also, the rule allows for situations in which vaccine supplies might be unavailable or in short supply and would not hold providers accountable for providing the vaccine to all patients in those circumstances.
The rule also would require providers and suppliers to establish policies that would allow them to offer vaccines for pandemic influenza, if there is a future pandemic for which a vaccine is developed.
The CMS will accept comments on this proposed rule until July 5.
A spokeswoman for American Hospital Association said in an e-mail the organization is still reviewing the rule, and that this could be difficult to implement. The organization is seeking input from its members, she said.