MOREHEAD CITY — Amid a cascade of announcements this week that some of the state’s largest health care providers will require employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine to continue working at their facilities, Carteret Health Care officials say the hospital has not imposed such a mandate on its staff.
Michelle Lee, community relations and marketing director for CHC, told the News-Times the hospital does not have a COVID-19 vaccine mandate in place for employees, as of Friday afternoon. She said hospital leaders are aware of the recent announcements about vaccine mandates elsewhere and may revisit the topic later, but for now, CHC is leaving it up to individuals to make a decision on whether or not to receive the vaccine.
“We are continuing to monitor the situation closely,” she said Friday. “…We look at everything on a day-by-day basis and make decisions accordingly.”
The hospital, at 3500 Arendell St. in Morehead City, employs more than 1,100 staff members across numerous departments. Not all employees are patient-facing, such as housekeeping and administrative staff. Many of the hospital’s employees were among the first people in the county to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, as health care workers were included in the first group of the state’s phased approach to distributing the vaccine.
The News-Times requested an updated percentage of CHC employees that have received the COVID-19 vaccine to date, but the information was not immediately available.
The Associated Press reports several of North Carolina’s largest hospital systems announced Thursday they will require employees to receive the vaccine by specified deadlines in order to continue working at the facilities. Sites that will soon mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for workers include the Duke University Health network and several UNC Health hospitals, as well as Charlotte-based Atrium Health, Greensboro-based Cone Health, Wake Forest Baptist Health and Winston-Salem-based Novant Health.
The N.C. Healthcare Association, a group which represents around 130 member organizations, announced Thursday its board of trustees had approved a position supporting the vaccination requirements for health care workers. The association also commended the member health systems that have announced vaccine mandates, so far.
“Hospital and health system employee vaccination against COVID-19 is vital to safely care for patients by protecting them from infection, and to mitigate the spread of the virus within healthcare facilities and among clinicians, patients and their families and friends,” the group wrote, in part, in a message to its members.
The move comes as North Carolina officials decided Wednesday to eliminate its statewide mask mandate beginning Friday, July 30, despite the state seeing a recent surge in cases and hospitalizations fueled by the delta variant of the novel coronavirus.
The latest state data show 54% of eligible North Carolina residents are fully vaccinated, compared to 57% of all Americans age 12 and older who are fully immunized, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Secretary of the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services Dr. Mandy Cohen also praised the N.C. Healthcare Association for encouraging hospitals to compel their workers to get vaccinated.
“Thank you to the North Carolina Healthcare Association, and the health systems that are leading the way requiring vaccination for employees, for taking action to protect the health care workforce, their patients, our communities and the state,” she said in a news release. “Vaccinations are our way out of the pandemic. Don’t wait to vaccinate.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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