WINCHESTER, Va. (WDVM) — Valley Health announced a deadline earlier this summer for when employees would have to get their first shot of the COVID-19 vaccine or risk termination. Now, that September 7 deadline for employees to prove that they’ve gotten their first shot has passed.
The health system now says 97% of staff have either received at least one shot or have a medical or religious exemption. 5% of that 97% are exempt, and the remaining 3% of employees risk termination if they don’t prove vaccination status by the end of the two-week termination period.
“We had about 120 that went past the deadline, and they were suspended last Wednesday. Some of those have in fact decided to get a shot so we still have cards coming in. The rest of them have until a week from today to… make their decision. I think many have mostly made their decision, but as of next Wednesday, they would be terminated,” said Mark Nantz, president and CEO of Valley Health.
The vaccination requirement is recognized as a key component in battling the pandemic as COVID numbers surge across the health system comparable to the surge seen last winter. 115 patients are hospitalized with COVID-19. 14 COVID patients are on a ventilator.
“The concern is many things are kind of going back to normal we’re not necessarily in a place for them to get back to normal just yet,” Nantz stated.
The health system remains firm on how to keep COVID numbers down.
“The vaccine’s the number one thing, but social distancing, wearing your mask, washing your hands, really continuing to give people that extra space,” said Nantz.