Employees respond to Novant Health vaccine mandate

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NEW HANOVER COUNTY (WWAY) — The countdown is now on for employees with Novant Health. Their deadline to get the COVID-19 vaccine is September 15.

Anonymous employees say Novant Health emailed every staff member Thursday night, bringing some relief and others anxiety.

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According to Novant Health, employees have until September 15 to get vaccinated, or August 26 to file a medical or faith based exemption.

The announcement upset some employees.

“Just that I think it’s bull crap that they’re going to approve something,” said one woman, “or mandate something that was not FDA approved and supposedly has emergency FDA approval, which I feel is a big red flag.”

Some took to the internet to air their grievances. WWAY received an email circulating among hospital staff asking workers to contact state legislators. Some threatened to quit if the mandate stands.

One employee stated she believes getting vaccinated should be a personal choice, and her choice is not to.

“So I’m like, what’s the point. I’m a young healthy person. Yes I get it preventing other people, but I don’t understand the concept.”

On the other side, some vaccinated employees said they’re thankful for the mandate, and hope the decision will keep staff and patients safer.

“I think when you work in healthcare, and you’re going from patient to patient and you’re taking whatever illness you might have, and whatever illness one patient has to another patient, you’re just putting people at risk.”

According to staff, New Hanover Regional has both a nurse shortage and unvaccinated nurses. Some worry the mandate will cause nurses to quit, worsening the shortage.

“I mean, if they’re going to fire people that don’t, people are going to leave that’s already been leaving anyway.”

But with more health systems requiring vaccines, they may have limited options.

“If they go somewhere else, it’s going to be mandated somewhere else. So either they leave the profession entirely and come up with a new profession, and if they’re willing to do all of that, then maybe nursing wasn’t for them in the first place.”

We reached out to Novant Health about their mask mandate. They responded:

“Since the COVID-19 vaccine first arrived at Novant Health, we have been working diligently to overcome vaccine hesitancy among our team members. These efforts include holding weekly forums to address individual concerns and common misconceptions, making the vaccine convenient and accessible, and providing continuous updates on the vaccine’s safety and efficacy.

We appreciate and acknowledge the tens of thousands of team members who eagerly received the vaccine. Unfortunately, the reality is that vaccination rates remain stagnant across the country, including at Novant Health.

We agree with the North Carolina Healthcare Association, the Infectious Diseases Society of America, and many other health care systems in the region that a mandatory vaccine program is in the best interest of public health. Simply put, it is essential to ensure the safety of our patients, team members and communities. Therefore, we are requiring that all Novant Health team members be fully vaccinated by Sept. 15, 2021.

While our hope is for every team member to accept the vaccine on their own, a mandatory vaccination program will ensure that Novant Health’s patients and visitors, as well as our team members, have better protection against COVID-19 regardless of where they are in our health system. This disease is preventable thanks to a safe and effective vaccine, and we are committed to doing everything we can to bring an end to this pandemic.”