Duke Health set to fire nearly 20 employees this week for not complying with COVID vaccine

Coronavirus

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – On Wednesday, Duke Health officials said that fewer than 20 of their employees face termination as nearly 100 percent of their workforce has complied with the COVID vaccine mandate.

Katie Galbraith said a majority of the more than 100 Duke Health employees who went on unpaid leave last week have since complied with the mandate.

She said they were given seven days to comply, and that its now down to fewer than 20 who will likely face termination this week.

“We’re really proud of the close to 23,000 team members who have stepped up and reinforced that value and complied with this policy,” Galbraith said.

Galbraith couldn’t say what departments the individuals facing termination work in, but she said it’s across the system.

“You know we don’t want to lose anyone, everyone is valuable, but this will not have an impact on patient care,” Galbraith said.

CBS 17 spoke with one Duke Health employee who works in the pharmacy department who was placed on unpaid leave on Friday.

She did not want to show her face or give her name but said she will be fired this Friday because she does not plan to get the COVID vaccine.

“I just don’t feel comfortable putting it in my body knowing there’s still unknowns,” she said. “Our rights are not being protected.”

She said she had concerns about Duke Health requiring a vaccine that is still very new and she had questions about the ingredients in the vaccine. Also, she said she didn’t think she qualified for a religious or medical exemption.

“I’m not going to say I’m religious to get out of something, when I just have questions about it,” she said. “I’m not going to just hide behind a religion to keep my job.”

She said she has worked at Duke Health for 21 years and she argues that employees should have the right to decide if they want to get the vaccine or not.

“I want to speak out for those who don’t want to get the vaccine and feel they don’t have a choice, we should be able to ask questions and get answers,” she said.

When Duke Health first announced the COVID mandate in late July, 77 percent of Duke Health employees were vaccinated. Now almost 100 percent of their employees have complied with the vaccine mandate.

Galbraith said 6 percent of their employees were granted a religious or medical exemption. CBS 17 asked if these employees will have to undergo weekly COVID testing, but she said as of right now they will not.

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