UNC Health's vaccine requirement went into effect on Sept. 21, leaving tens of thousands of health workers with a choice: either get vaccinated or lose their job. Seventy workers chose the latter, resigning instead of getting vaccinated.
Additionally, about 35 candidates have declined job offers due to the policy since it was announced in July, UNC Health Director of News Alan Wolf said in an email.
Any employees who are not compliant with the vaccine mandate will be fired on Nov. 3, according to an email to employees from Wayne UNC Health Care obtained by the DTH.
Employees can apply for medical and religious exemptions to the requirement or choose to defer getting vaccinated until after a pregnancy.
Anyone who did not get vaccinated by the Sept. 21 deadline will have until Nov. 2 to get vaccinated in order to remain employed. During that interim period, employees who have not received their first dose will be placed on unpaid administrative leave.
“We take this vaccine requirement very seriously and did not approve 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 would rather avoid losing any employees.”
The rise of COVID-19 cases due to the delta variant forced health officials to consider a vaccination requirement this summer.
“We have an explosion of cases due to the delta variant,” Medical Director of UNC Hospitals’ Departments of Hospital Epidemiology David Weber said in a video on UNC Health’s website. “We want to protect our health care providers — we care about all of them — from getting sick, from transmitting diseases to their colleagues. We want to protect our patients.”
On July 22, the North Carolina Healthcare Association said it supports COVID-19 vaccination requirements for health care workers.