RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Though new data shows the majority of workers in agencies under Gov. Roy Cooper’s authority have received the COVID-19 vaccine, the State Employees Association of North Carolina said there’s “still some work to do,” particularly among those working in public safety.
Gov. Roy Cooper signed an executive order in July that required all employees of cabinet agencies to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Sept. 1 or be tested weekly.
CBS 17 requested the vaccination rates among Cooper’s cabinet employees to see percentages in the two weeks since weekly testing began.
Jill Lucas, spokeswoman for the North Carolina Department of Administration, said Wednesday’s numbers are “a snapshot in time based on available data and will change as more vaccination records are validated by the agencies, as well as more employees become vaccinated and submit their records.”
The data released to CBS 17 on Wednesday reflects 59,000 permanent and temporary workers currently employed by cabinet agencies.
The Office of State Budget and Management was at the top of the list of 11 agencies with 91 percent vaccinated.
OSBM was one of eight agencies that were above the state-wide vaccination rate for adults.
According to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, 62 percent of adults in the state are fully vaccinated.
The lowest was the Department of Public Safety at 53 percent – which includes law enforcement agencies like the State Highway Patrol, Alcohol Law Enforcement, and the State Capitol Police.
“The numbers, particularly in prisons, are lower than we would like,” said Suzanne Beasley, director of government relations for the State Employees Association of North Carolina. “I think that’s a direct reflection of what we’re seeing across the state with vaccinations period. And, access to get the vaccination is going to be a little more challenging in rural areas. You might have to drive down a mountain in western North Carolina to get to a site where you can get the vaccination.”
Earlier this month, President Joe Biden announced a new requirement that federal workers get the COVID-19 vaccine without the option for weekly testing instead.
The deadline to do that is Nov. 22.
Cooper has not gone that far but said it’s an option.
“That potential is there for us. But, when you think about the logistics of getting everybody to verify: how are you going to do it? How are you going to count it?” he said earlier this week. “We want to make sure that we’ve got a process in place that works and can withstand employee appeals of things that occur. So, you want to make sure you get all that stuff right.”
Republican Senate leader Phil Berger, who has urged people to get the vaccine, said he is concerned about mandating it. Spokesperson Lauren Horsch said it could “cause resistance and hesitancy.”
Cabinet agency vaccination rates:
Department of Public Safety: 53 percent
Department of Natural and Cultural Resources: 57 percent
Department of Transportation: 60 percent
Department of Information Technology: 77 percent
State Bureau of Investigation: 77 percent
Department of Revenue: 79 percent
Department of Administration: 81 percent
Department of Environmental Quality: 81 percent
Department of Military and Veterans Affairs: 82 percent
Office of State Human Resources: 85 percent
Office of State Budget and Management: 91 percent
*Data on the DHHS and the Department of Commerce were not immediately available.