North Carolina hospital system fires over 175 employees for not getting COVID vaccine


FILE – In this Jan. 8, 2021, file photo, a pharmacist prepares a syringe of the Pfizer vaccine for COVID-19, at Queen Anne Healthcare, a skilled nursing and rehabilitation facility in Seattle. The U.S. vaccination drive against COVID-19 stood on the verge of a major new phase as government advisers Thursday, Sept. 23, recommended booster doses of Pfizer’s vaccine for millions of older or otherwise vulnerable Americans — despite doubts the extra shots will do much to slow the pandemic. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (WJZY) – More than 175 employees of North Carolina-based Novant Health have been terminated after not complying with the company’s mandatory COVID-19 vaccination program.

Novant officials said last week that around 375 workers were suspended for defying the new policy. On Monday, Spokesperson Megan Rivers said in an email said nearly 200 additional workers came into compliance and confirmed that the others who failed to do so were fired, but did not give exact numbers.

Officials said the terminated workers had the opportunity to comply over a five-day, unpaid suspension period.

Novant Health and Atrium Health announced in July that the health systems would require all workers to get the vaccine.

Novant employees were given until Sept. 15 to get the shot. Workers who have started a two-dose vaccine series will have until Oct. 15 to get their second dose and remain in compliance, the health system said.

Novant workers who have been granted a medical or religious exemption are required to undergo weekly COVID-19 testing, wear N95 masks and eye protection while at work.

Over 99% out of nearly 35,000 Novant Health employees are in compliance with the health company’s policy, Rivers tweeted Monday.

The Winston-Salem-based system includes 15 hospitals, 800 clinics and hundreds of outpatient facilities.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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