UNC Health employees must be vaccinated by November

UNC REX Hospital in Raleigh.


RALEIGH, N.C. — UNC Health says 60 employees have resigned over the requirement to get a COVID-19 vaccine. A probationary period started Tuesday for those employees who refuse to comply with the mandate.

 

What You Need To Know

UNC Health says 60 employees have resigned over the COVID-19 vaccine mandate

Tuesday was the last day for employees to submit a medical or religious exemption

Employees who aren’t in compliance are now on a probationary period and have until Nov. 2 to get vaccinated

 

According to UNC Health, the health system has confirmed the vaccination status or granted exemptions for 95% of its 30,000 employees.

UNC’s original vaccination deadline was Tuesday, but it extended the deadline to Nov. 2 because Johnson & Johnson’s single shot vaccine has been harder to get. Dr. Matt Ewend, the chief clinical officer at UNC Health, says this has created a timing issue since Pfizer and Moderna require wait periods in between the two shots.

“At one point, we had 5,000 teammates who had not yet been vaccinated, but we only had 1,000 doses of J&J. So we did create a pathway for folks a couple of weeks ago to start in the two-step vaccination and to come into compliance, even though they wouldn’t have had the second shot by the original deadline,” Ewend said.

UNC Health is still working to confirm the status of about 1,100 employees. Tuesday was the last day for UNC Health employees to submit a medical or religious exemption. Employees who do not meet the requirement have until Nov. 2 to get their shots.

As for the employees who have resigned over the mandate, Ewend said, “We wanted to lose nobody. That was our goal. Just to have a safe workforce and not lose a single co-worker. But we are realistic enough to know that there will be a few folks who just can’t find their way to be compliant and then health care won’t be the right place for them.”

“We did hear the voices of our internal colleagues who were concerned, or protested, or raise their voice, or wrote a letter or spoke up in team meetings. We tried to be very nonjudgmental about this. People are in very different places about the vaccine,” Ewend said. “But we really have a commitment as health care leaders to lead and a commitment to our patients who come to feel safe in our hospitals and at our clinics, and we just didn’t feel we would have a safe environment unless we had a vaccinated workforce.”



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