Local health workers step down due to COVID-19 vaccination requirement
UNC Health’s vaccine requirement went into effect on September 21, leaving the choice to tens of thousands of health workers to either get vaccinated or lose their jobs. Seventy workers chose the latter, resigning instead of being vaccinated.
In addition, around 35 applicants have declined job offers due to the policy since its announcement in July, UNC health news director Alan Wolf said in an email.
All employees who do not comply with the vaccination mandate will be fired on Nov. 3, according to an email to Wayne UNC Health Care employees obtained by DTH.
Employees can request medical and religious exemptions from the requirement or choose to defer vaccination after pregnancy.
Anyone who has not been vaccinated by the September 21 deadline will have until November 2 to get vaccinated in order to keep their job. During this interim period, employees who have not received their first dose will be placed on administrative leave without pay.
“We take this vaccine requirement very seriously and have not approved it lightly,” Wolf said in an email. “UNC Health is grateful for the hard work and sacrifices of our more than 30,000 heroic health workers during the pandemic. We prefer to avoid losing employees.
The increase in COVID-19 cases due to the delta variant has forced health officials to consider a vaccination requirement this summer.
“We have an explosion of cases due to the delta variant,” said medical director of the hospital epidemiology departments at UNC hospitals, David Weber, in a video on the UNC Health website. “We want to protect our health care providers – we care about everyone – against disease, against the transmission of disease to their colleagues. We want to protect our patients.
On July 22, the North Carolina Healthcare Association said it supported COVID-19 vaccination requirements for healthcare workers.
As of September 23, 82 North Carolina hospitals have announced policies requiring employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19, NCHA Vice President of Communications and Public Relations Cynthia Charles said in an email .
UNC Health and Duke Health were among the first healthcare systems to issue policies requiring the vaccine after the announcement.
“Duke University Health System welcomes the NC Healthcare Association’s position supporting the COVID vaccination requirement for healthcare workers,” said Duke University Health System executive vice president Dr William J. Fulkerson, Jr. in a statement. “We are proud to be among the first in North Carolina to implement this condition of employment.”
At Duke Health, less than 1% of Duke University Health System employees have failed to qualify for vaccination, said Sarah Avery, director of Duke Health News, in an email.
At Wayne UNC Health Care in Goldsboro, 39 employees have resigned due to the need for a vaccine, executive administrative assistant Tammie Brown said in an email.
Brittany Minahan, RN at Wayne UNC Healthcare, said she was granted a religious exemption from the vaccine after being initially denied.
She said she was told she could stay at her post if tested twice a week, but Minahan decided to quit anyway.
“It’s up to me to decide if I’m going to put something in my body or not,” Minahan said. “And I shouldn’t be punished if I choose not to.”
In light of the health worker shortage in North Carolina, a departure of employees due to the vaccination mandate could add stress to vaccinated workers.
“The problem of nurse shortages and nurse burnout is real. The nurses are exhausted, they are frustrated, ”said Charles. “I think we need to focus more on the vast majority of nurses who have stepped up to get vaccinated and who are out there right now in the 18th month of the pandemic facing emergency services and emergency units. very comprehensive intensive care. ”