RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services told its staff Tuesday that all employees and volunteers at state-funded facilities will be required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by the end of September.

In a memo, the NCDHHS Division of State Operated Health Facilities said all employees, volunteers, students, trainees, contracted, and temporary workers must be vaccinated by Sept. 30.

The memo said more than 75 percent of the Division’s facility staff are vaccinated.

“As a healthcare system, we have a responsibility to protect the patients and residents that we serve – many of whom are at high risk for COVID-19 complications, are without other options for care, and in our care for long periods of time,” stated the memo from Karen Burkes, interim division director, and Carrie Brown, MD, chief medical officer for behavioral health & IDD.

Those affected by the order can apply for an exemption for medical or religious reasons.

Republican House Speaker Tim Moore criticized the move.

Moore said while he has been vaccinated, the decision for anyone to get the shot should be up to them and their doctor.

“North Carolinians will not be bullied into being vaccinated against their will, particularly with a vaccine that has yet to be approved by the FDA,” Moore said.