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Vidant ‘urgently discussing’ vaccine mandate

Several of North Carolina’s largest hospital systems will require employees to get a COVID-19 vaccine. Vidant Health could soon implement a similar requirement.

The North Carolina Healthcare Association announced on Thursday that several of its 130 member health systems intent to require vaccination for their employees. Those systems include Duke University Health System, several UNC Health hospitals, Atrium Health, Cone Health, Novant Health and Wake Forest Baptist Health.

“North Carolina’s hospitals and health systems exist to improve and protect the health of our communities, which is why they place patient, visitor and team member health and safety at the heart of the care they provide,” the NCHA wrote in a statement sent to its members. “In keeping with that goal, the North Carolina Healthcare Association strongly supports hospital and health system policies that require all hospital employees and clinical team members to be vaccinated against COVID-19. NCHA recognizes that each hospital and health system is unique and encourages each to determine the appropriate time to implement a requirement.”

All of Vidant’s hospitals including Vidant Beaufort Hospital are members of the NCHA.

“Vidant Health appreciates the strong stance taken by the North Carolina Healthcare Association, American Hospital Association and Association of American Medical Colleges to support and encourage hospitals and health systems to require team members to be vaccinated against COVID-19,” a statement from Vidant Health reads. “The vaccines are proven to be both safe and effective. Several hospitals and health systems in North Carolina, and many across the nation, have already announced their intentions to require vaccinations of their team members. It is the right thing to do for the safety of all, especially as the variants prove to be more transmissible and severe for those not vaccinated.

“While Vidant is not announcing a COVID vaccine requirement today, our leadership team, in partnership with our infectious disease experts, is urgently discussing when and how we will take this step,” the statement continues. “As a health care organization that serves and cares for more than 1.4 million people in the east, it is our responsibility to let the science and data drive our decisions and set the example for our communities.”

North Carolina is seeing an uptick in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. The state recorded 1,998 new cases on Friday. The daily case count dipped as low as 55 in June. As of Thursday, 817 people in North Carolina were hospitalized with COVID-19.

Beaufort County’s COVID-19 metrics are still low. The county’s seven-day and 21-day average daily case counts are both below five. The county’s metrics tend to follow state trends, although those trends often take longer to become apparent in Beaufort County’s data than in other places.

As of Friday, 45.1% of Beaufort County’s total population had been at least partially vaccinated against COVID-19, and 42.2% had been fully vaccinated. 55.1% of the county’s adult population had been partially vaccinated, and about 52% had been fully vaccinated.