DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — Beginning Tuesday Duke Health employees could have been placed on administrative leave or even terminated if they have not yet gotten their COVID-19 vaccine.
Employees had until 10 a.m. Tuesday to receive their vaccine or begin facing consequences. Dozens of employees previously protested the mandate.
Duke Health says 98 percent of employees are vaccinated.
Katie Galbraith, president of Duke Regional Hospital, said despite staffing shortages at hospitals across the country, Duke is prepared to continue meeting the demand and needs of all their patients even if employees do decide to resign.
“For us, this is really about committing to living our values and our core value of caring for our patients, caring for their loved ones, and caring for each other and our team members,” said Galbraith.
Back in July, health care workers, hospital staff, and activists took to the streets outside of Duke University Hospital demanding that Duke Health not require employees to get the COVID vaccine.
Protesters called Duke Health’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate unconstitutional and argued that health care workers and hospital staff should have the right to decide if they want to get the vaccine.
Data from Duke Health show that 77 percent of their employees were vaccinated in July when the mandate was first announced. That number has now climbed to nearly 97 percent.
Duke Health officials said of those still working toward compliance, more than half have already received one dose of the vaccine. They said the other portion of the group includes employees who have been newly hired or who are on leave. Those groups have up to six weeks to fulfill the requirement.
However, hundreds of employees remain unvaccinated.
CBS 17 asked Duke officials how many employees have resigned as a result of the mandate and how many have faced consequences so far today. They said they are still working to get us that information.
“I don’t anticipate a major challenge from a staffing perspective. If we have a team member who chooses to go elsewhere because they do not want to get vaccinated we understand that and still stick by this requirement,” said Galbraith,
This story will be updated as more information becomes available.