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Termination deadlines loom for local healthcare workers who refuse COVID-19 vaccine

Tobey Hospital in Wareham
Southcoast Health
Tobey Hospital in Wareham

Local hospital employees are facing deadlines to get vaccinated for COVID-19 or risk losing their jobs, and some have already been fired.

Nantucket Cottage Hospital workers who’ve refused to get the COVID-19 vaccine are nearing their termination date, according to hospital spokesman James Lanza.

He said fewer than 10 workers were placed on unpaid leave for not complying with the hospital’s vaccination policy.

“We're trying to get every opportunity possible to come into compliance with this, so we can get them back into the hospital,” he said.

Southcoast Health fired 216 medical workers on Nov. 30 for not getting the vaccine, The Herald News reported. Southcoast has granted exemptions to 151 employees for religious or medical reasons.

Southcoast Health operates Tobey Hospital in Wareham, St. Luke’s Hospital in New Bedford, and Charlton Memorial Hospital in Fall River.

Lanza didn’t specify the impending termination date at Nantucket Cottage Hospital, but he said it’s coming in the next few weeks.

All employees who are working are vaccinated, he said.

Martha’s Vineyard Hospital declined a request for an interview, saying it plans to hold a media briefing tomorrow.

Cape Cod Healthcare said 99 percent of staff are vaccinated, and those who aren’t vaccinated are not treating patients.

Meanwhile, demand for booster shots has been steady in the region, and in some places, appointments are getting hard to find.

Appointments for booster shots at Nantucket Cottage Hospital are booked through the end of December, Lanza said.

Outer Cape Health Services is booking booster shots about two weeks out.

Staffing, and not the availability of shots, is the main driver of wait times, according to Dr. Matthew Libby, chief clinical operations officer at Outer Cape Health Services.

Jennette Barnes is a reporter and producer. Named a Master Reporter by the New England Society of News Editors, she brings more than 20 years of news experience to CAI.