77 Percent of North Carolina Workers Hit by Governor's Vaccine Mandate Got Jab by Deadline

Nearly 77 percent of North Carolina state workers impacted by Governor Roy Cooper's vaccine mandate have been inoculated with the COVID vaccine by the deadline, according to the latest human resources report.

The human resources report shows that 40,829 of the 53,245 state employees are fully vaccinated as of December 16. The transportation and public safety departments, the most employed departments, have the lowest vaccination rates at 64 percent and 67 percent, respectively. The governor's office has the highest vaccination rate at 99 percent, with only one employee not having been fully vaccinated.

"The vast, vast majority of them are in compliance with the executive order, and that means either being vaccinated or tested," Cooper said during a news conference this week.

The vaccine mandate was first enforced as an executive order in the summer on July 29. The order said that employees of Cooper's Cabinet agencies must be fully vaccinated or must undergo weekly COVID testing and wear a mask.

Refusal to comply with Cooper's vaccine mandate results in termination. As of Wednesday, 18 North Carolina state workers have been fired because they refused to obey the executive order.

North Carolina's health department had also released a separate memo on July 27, ordering all health department workers to be fully vaccinated by September 30. There was no option for those unvaccinated to receive weekly testing.

Overall, North Carolina has 69 percent of the adult population vaccinated and 73 percent of adults have received at least one dose, with 14 million doses having been administered, according to a press release on the governor's website.

Like other states, North Carolina is also seeing a surge in COVID cases, with the state Department of Health and Human Services reporting 4,889 COVID cases on December 22, an increase from 2,894 cases the previous day, according to the Raleigh News & Observer.

Vaccine Mandate, Deadline, Refusal Equals Termination
The vaccine mandate was first enforced as an executive order from Governor Roy Cooper in the summer on July 29. In this February 11, 2021, photo, a healthcare worker prepares to administer a COVID-19 vaccine at PNC Arena in Raleigh, North Carolina. Gerry Broome/AP Photo, File

The North Carolina Office of State Human Resources provided the dismissal figure to The Associated Press on Wednesday.

The 18 fired state employees include six workers from the Department of Health and Human Services, five from the Department of Public Safety, three from the Department of Transportation and one each from four other cabinet-level agencies. They represent just 0.03 percent of the workforce Cooper's order covers.

Under a separate directive, the state health department in October announced it dismissed 16 workers at state-operated healthcare facilities but did not immediately share with the AP whether more employees have since been fired.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Vaccine Mandate, Deadline, Refusal Equals Termination
Overall, North Carolina has 69 percent of the adult population vaccinated and 73 percent of adults having received at least one dose, with 14 million doses having been administered, according to a press release on Gov. Roy Cooper's website. In this photo, Cooper waves to a crowd at the North Carolina Democratic Watch Party as he walks on stage with his family on November 9, 2016, in Raleigh, North Carolina. Sara D. Davis/Getty Images