Medical groups push for more places in NC to require COVID-19 vaccines

North Carolina

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN)– The Department of Veterans Affairs is requiring all medical personnel to be vaccinated, which includes employees such as dentists and nurses.

It’s the first federal agency-wide mandate we’ve seen.

Officials with the VA in Durham were not able to conduct an interview on Monday about the new rules, but the federal agency said employees have eight weeks to get vaccinated.

They’re joining the growing list of places requiring their medical staff to be vaccinated.

“Unfortunately, it’s not just a personal choice. This has implications and ramifications for those around you if you’re not vaccinated, and I think more and more companies and cities and towns are understanding that,” said Dr. David Wohl with UNC Health.

The American Medical Association and dozens of other medical groups are urging every health system and long-term care facility to require their workers to be vaccinated.

The VA is the first federal agency to require it.

“I think that’s what we’re going to see if this continues, is more and more of these mandatory or compulsory vaccine rules and I’m really hopeful we don’t have to do that. We don’t have to see our country go that way,” said Dr. Wohl.

Some businesses in the restaurant and music industry began requiring vaccines for employees and patrons.

Others are requiring unvaccinated employees have weekly COVID-19 tests.

“There are privileges for being able to say, ‘I cannot spread virus to you,’ and we have to recognize that and protect our community and our nation from people who are deciding not to get vaccinated but yet pose a threat,” said Dr. Wohl.

The delta variant has led the weekly average number of cases to nearly double in the past 10 days in North Carolina.

“If you’re going to go to a restaurant, a sporting facility, where you know you’re going to be, what are the risks: Indoors, poorly ventilated, highly crowded and unmasked and you’re unvaccinated — that is a risk you have not learned any lessons from the last 18 months,” said Dr. Cameron Wolfe with Duke Health.

Dr. Wolfe said even those who are vaccinated shouldn’t be in a crowded restaurant, bar, or indoor event right now.

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