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UNC Health extends deadline for employee vaccination, hopes employees realize value in vaccine

Posted September 20, 2021 6:15 p.m. EDT
Updated September 20, 2021 11:50 p.m. EDT

— UNC Health is extending the deadline for its employees to get a COVID-19 vaccine, rolling out a probationary period that will run through early November.

UNC Health is still working to confirm the status of approximately 1,400 employees who are out of compliance regarding their COVID-19 vaccination status. Anyone who is not compliant with the mandate as of Tuesday, Sept. 21 will go into a vaccine probationary period that ends on Nov. 2. They will have a last chance to remain employed by getting vaccinated during that period.

Nearly 95 percent of UNC Health employees are vaccinated.

UNC Health Southeastern president of medical staff Dr. Robin Peace said the extension was the result of a worker shortage. She said she hopes that the deadline extension gives unvaccinated employees time to see the importance of being vaccinated.

"I think there is a concern about worker shortages particularly because of the surge we are currently seeing," Dr. Peace told WRAL. "We are still moving in the right direction."

Many health experts feel that everyone who works in the medical field should be vaccinated.

"I think that we have to hold one another to that higher standard as well," said pediatrician Dr. Lori Langdon. "When we are encouraging patients to be vaccinated, we should be vaccinated."

Coronavirus vaccinations in NC

"We are confident we will get the vast majority of our teammates vaccinated," said Alan Wolf with UNC Health. "We want to keep everyone employed who wants to stay with UNC Health, and are working hard to accommodate employees with medical and religious concerns."

Wolf said the system has approved about 1,100 exemptions for medical or religious reasons. On Sept. 7, Wolf said about 3,700 employees, or about 9 percent, still haven't confirmed that they are vaccinated or need an exemption for medical or religious reasons.

In comparison, Duke Health representative Sarah Avery notes that nearly 97 percent of Duke University Health System employees have fulfilled the COVID vaccination requirements as of Monday. Only a 'very small number' of the 23,000 employees are expected to be non-compliant. For those who are still working toward compliance, more than half have already received one dose of the vaccine.

The two hospital systems were among several statewide that announced vaccine mandates for staff in July.

The WakeMed Health system deadline is Nov. 12. WakeMed said approximately 80 percent of its staff are vaccinated. Meanwhile, Wake County announced that 87 percent of its employees have attested that they are fully vaccinated on Monday.

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