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Durham, N.C. – Large hospital systems across North Carolina, including the Durham-based Duke University Health System and Chapel Hill-based UNC Health, announced Thursday that all staff and physicians must be vaccinated to continue working there.
The move comes as the North Carolina Healthcare Association decides to support vaccines needed by health care workers. The association represents 130 hospitals and health systems across the state.
“Protecting patients, visitors and healthcare workers from Kovid-1 is of paramount importance. Vaccination of hospitals and healthcare workers is essential to reduce the spread of the virus by protecting them from infection.” Healthcare facilities and hospitals, patients and their families and friends Among them, the association said in a statement.
Duke Health and UNC Health have set a September 21 deadline for employees to be fully vaccinated and employees must show proof of vaccination to their supervisor. Anyone seeking medical or religious relief from receiving the vaccine should request it by September 7.
Anyone who fails to meet the deadline will receive a warning and will be removed if they are not vaccinated, said Duke Health’s senior vice president and president of Duke University Hospital. Said Tom Owens.
More than 22,000 employees remain unopposed on about a quarter of Duke Health’s staff, the spokesman said.
“We are committed to ensuring that all healthcare professionals are not harmed – this is part of our vow. We need to make sure that we do not give cowardice to those who care for patients,” Owens said. “We’re doing this for a reason – we’re not taking this decision lightly, but we’re concerned about the trend you see.”
New coronavirus infections have been on the rise in North Carolina for the past few weeks, with the highly contagious delta type of the virus making it worse.
Another 1,00,000 cases were reported across the state on Thursday. This is the highest one-day event since May. Last week, the seven-day average averaged 1,154, which is now double that of nine days ago.
Covid-1 with more than 50,500 people are hospitalized in North Carolina, about a quarter of them in critical condition.
Owens said the hospital system sees the vaccine order as a “two-to-one action” and hopes officials in North Carolina will encourage people to be vaccinated. Across the state, only 57 percent of adults 18 or older are fully vaccinated, while another 3 percent had a vaccine dose.
“We hope that members of the community will see this as evidence that they will continue to protect themselves and those who care for them,” he said. “In fact, we need more members of our community to move forward and get vaccinated.”
Other hospitals ordering staff to be vaccinated include Greensboro-based Cone Health, Winston-Salem-based Novant Health and Charlotte-based Atrium Health.
Wakemade officials said they also plan for staff to be vaccinated, but have not yet set a deadline.
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