Almost 200 Hospital System Employees Fired for Not Getting COVID Vaccine

Novant Health has fired almost 200 employees who haven't received a COVID-19 vaccine.

The healthcare firm, which is based in North Carolina but also operates across South Carolina, Virginia and Georgia, announced plans to implement a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination program in July, setting a September 15 deadline for compliance.

"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," the company announced on July 22.

However, on September 21 Novant Health revealed around 375 of its employees, working across 15 hospitals, 800 clinics and hundreds of outpatient facilities, had yet to receive a single vaccine shot.

The company said that they "will have an opportunity to comply over a five day, unpaid suspension period."

Today, Novant Health revealed that nearly 200 of those had since received their first vaccine dose.

"Last week, nearly 200 additional team members came into compliance, increasing that rate across Novant Health to over 99 percent," Novant Health told Winston-Salem Journal. "So, fewer than 200 were non-compliant."

The company hasn't revealed the exact number of people who have had their employment terminated for non-compliance, but it exceeds 175.

Any employees who have had one dose of either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine have been given until October 15 to receive their second dose, or else risk the same fate.

Employees who have been granted an exemption based on medical or religious grounds are required to undergo weekly COVID-19 testing, and to wear N95 respirators masks or other appropriate PPE and eye-wear protection at work.

Novant Health announced the policy amid a surge in COVID-19 cases fueled by the Delta variant, and a slowdown in the rate of vaccination uptake across the U.S..

Our World in Data has compiled vaccination data from various national health authorities, and shows that the U.S. (which was one of the first countries to kick off a mass vaccination program) consistently ranked in the top five countries for COVID-19 vaccine uptake until June.

The daily number of COVID-19 vaccination doses being administered in the U.S. dropped significantly in mid-April, falling from a rate of 1.01 per 100 people on April 13, to 0.15 per 100 people by July 10.

The daily rate has since increased slightly to 0.19 per 100 people, as of September 26.

The U.S. now sits 18th in the rankings, with 58.85 percent of the population partly vaccinated against COVID-19, and 54.68 percent fully vaccinated.

Novant Health COVID-19 vaccine sticker on car
A detail of a Novant Health sticker on a car prior to the NASCAR Cup Series Goodyear 400 on May 09, 2021 in Darlington, South Carolina. The healthcare firm has fired more than 100 employees for failing to comply with its COVID-19 vaccination policy. Chris Graythen/Getty Images