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Several Hampton Roads hospitals pass deadline for staff vaccinations; here's how they're doing

The deadline recently passed for three of the four major hospital systems, but health leaders say there is still a chance to get the vaccine.

NORFOLK, Va. — It's a process health leaders with four major hospital systems in Hampton Roads are trying to succeed in: getting their employees fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Dr. Mike Dacey with Riverside Health System says his team still has a long way to go in this race against the virus. He says about 10% of his staff members were not vaccinated on Oct. 22.

"We were at 70% less than that. Now, we're at 90%," Dacey said. "The major reason why people are not complying and getting vaccinated is we think it's an educational problem." 

Sentara Health and Chesapeake Regional Healthcare are also trying to cross that finish line.

Sentara reported about 97% of its 29,000+ employees either got the vaccine or had a medical or religious exemption. Three percent of them did not comply, meaning more than 850 employees are not vaccinated or exempt.

Chesapeake Regional Healthcare leaders said they've been seeing similar trends, with 98% of workers either in the vaccination process or exempt. 

A spokesperson for Chesapeake Regional Healthcare says out of the two percent of employees who are not exempt or vaccinated, many of them are on paid family leave.

Dacey said it's the same situation for his 10% of employees who have yet to comply, saying, "When you account for people who are on family and medical leave, when you account for remote workers and contracted workers, I don't think there's a substantial difference between the health systems in the area." 

Dacey says Riverside Health System has no plans to terminate anyone's employment with the hospital. 

He said they haven't taken disciplinary action yet against those who did not comply. He said he hopes healthcare workers will consider the vaccine to help lead the rest of the community in the effort.

"If healthcare workers are getting vaccinated, it'll make the vaccine-hesitant people more likely to get vaccinated."

Other hospital leaders say they have not disciplined or fired employees for not complying with the vaccine policy yet. Employees who are not fully vaccinated will be required to wear extra protective gear.

Bon Secours is the fourth major hospital system requiring the vaccine -- but its finish line is set for Dec. 1.

All major hospital system leaders say they are still giving their employees the chance to get the COVID-19 vaccine.