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North Carolina hospital system fires 175 employees who have not gotten vaccinated

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Novant Health, a massive hospital system in North Carolina that has made the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory for its employees, suspended 375 employees across 15 hospitals and 800 clinics last week for not complying with the mandate. But over a five-day period, 200 employees agreed to get the vaccine, Megan Rivers, the hospital’s director of media & influencer relations, said in a tweet. More than 99% of the hospital system’s 35,000 employees are vaccinated, Rivers said. 

The remaining 175 who were suspended last week have been fired, according to CBS affiliate WWAY

Novant announced its mandatory vaccination policy in July, with a deadline of September 15, WWAY reports. 

Employees who didn’t comply were given and unpaid suspension and were given five days to get the vaccine or be terminated, the hospital revealed in a September 21 press release. Those who already received the first dose of the two-dose Moderna or Pfizer vaccine now have until October 15 to get their second dose and remain in compliance.

“We are thrilled vast majority of team members gave @NovantHealth patients and visitors, as well as our team members, better protection regardless of where they are in our health system,” she wrote on Twitter.

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Several entities have made it mandatory for employees — or even visitors — to be vaccinated. New York health care workers were required to receive at least their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by September 27. 

Now that the state is enforcing that mandate, staff shortages are expected at some hospitals. New York Governor Kathy Hochul said a state emergency declaration and other options, including calling in health care workers from the National Guard, are on the table to address any potential hospital staffing shortages. 

Several cities, such as Los Angeles and New York, are requiring city employees get vaccinated. And earlier this month, President Joe Biden announced all employers with at least 100 employees will be required to ensure their workforce is fully vaccinated or require unvaccinated workers to get a negative test at least once a week. 

The Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration will issue an Emergency Temporary Standard to introduce the vaccine requirement. Companies that fail to comply could face fines of $14,000 per violation, Mr. Biden said. 

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