ATLANTA (NewsNation Now) — Hospitals across the country have started to crack down on unvaccinated employees, as vaccination numbers remain stagnant and new COVID-19 variants emerge.
In North Carolina, a large health care provider called Novant Health suspended 1.4 percent of its workforce Tuesday for not complying with its mandatory vaccination policy.
Novant gave its workers until Sept. 15 to get at least the first dose of the vaccine or apply for and receive a medical or religious exemption.
Nearly 400 workers didn’t do either and now face being fired. The company says anyone who doesn’t comply with the vaccine policy within the five-day, unpaid suspension period will lose their job.
A statement from the healthcare provider said quote, “team members who have started a two dose vaccine series will now have until October 15 to get their second dose.”
“I don’t think any state, North Carolina or any other, can afford to lose this many workforce,” said Tatyanna Kelly, a vice president at the North Carolina Health Care Association.
She says the industry was already dealing with the worker shortage and it’s only been exacerbated by the pandemic.
“It’s going to make things worse,” Kelly said. “It’s going to make things tougher, but it’s also incredibly important for us to vaccinate that workforce because this affects patient safety and affects the health and well-being of our patients.”
In Texas, 153 employees at Houston Methodist either resigned or were let go for not meeting the vaccine requirement there.
In Indiana, at least 125 part-time employees at Indiana University Health System lost their jobs for not getting the shots.
In New York, there’s a legal battle over the state’s health care worker vaccine mandate.
President Joe Biden announced vaccine rules for federal workers and large employers earlier this month. He also said he would require the nearly 20 million health care workers at facilities receiving funds from Medicare and Medicaid to be fully vaccinated.
This all comes as health experts are warning that until more people are vaccinated, mutations of the COVID-19 virus will continue to emerge.
A new mutation called the R1 variant is responsible for an outbreak at a Kentucky nursing home, with 45 patients and staff, many vaccinated, becoming ill.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only about 55 percent of the people in the country have received both doses of the vaccine so far, with close to 64 percent having received one dose.