At Duke Health, our top priority is safety and protecting the health and well-being of our patients, their loved ones, and our team members. We are closely coordinating with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS), and local health departments to develop safe, efficient, and equitable plans for COVID-19 vaccine distribution.
The update below was emailed to all staff on Dec. 28, 2021
Duke University Health System (DUHS) and the Private Diagnostic Clinic (PDC) have revised our health care worker COVID-19 vaccination requirements. Consistent with our values and commitment to zero harm for our patients and team, we will now require that all health care team members, regardless of work location, receive and show documentation of a completed COVID-19 booster vaccination by 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2022, or within 28 days of their eligibility under CDC and state guidelines.
The mandatory booster requirement is a condition of employment and applies to everyone who works or trains at DUHS and the PDC – which includes all team members, providers, volunteers, students/learners, residents, contractors and temporary employees.
The mandatory booster vaccination policy does allow limited exemptions and pregnancy deferrals. Team members seeking approved medical or religious exemptions or pregnancy deferral should submit their application by Friday, Jan. 21, 2022. Application forms are available here.
If a team member has already submitted and received a COVID-19 exemption, they do not need to reapply for an exemption/deferral for the booster until their exemption expires.
Submission of Booster Documentation
If team members received their booster through Employee Occupational Health & Wellness (EOHW), they do not need to provide additional documentation. Team members who received the booster in the community (such as a retail pharmacy or a Duke patient clinic), will need to submit their vaccination documentation here.
For booster scheduling options at Duke facilities, visit the Duke COVID Vaccine website. In the community, booster vaccinations are conveniently available at local pharmacies, supermarkets and many other locations listed on the Durham County Department of Public Health website or NC DHHS directory.
In addition to receiving your COVID-19 booster vaccination, it is crucial to continue to practice safe behaviors to keep ourselves and those around us safe and healthy. Wear a mask at all times in our facilities. Practice good hand hygiene. Maintain a safe distance from others, especially when removing your mask to eat or drink.
Thank you for continuing to live our core value of caring for our patients, their loved ones and each other.
The update below was emailed to all staff on Dec. 20, 2021
To all DUHS and PDC team members,
The Omicron variant has now emerged within the Durham community, and it is expected to quickly become the dominant strain as COVID-19 cases continue a rapid spike across the country. After consultation with our infectious disease and public health specialists, Duke University Health System and the Private Diagnostic Clinic will require all staff and providers to share proof of receiving the COVID-19 booster shot in January or as soon as they are eligible under CDC and state guidelines.
Guidelines and details for compliance will be shared in the coming days and will outline appropriate timelines consistent with current guidelines. We wanted to provide you with advance notice of our plans so that you can take action as soon as possible.
It is our responsibility to our patients and to our team members to keep our healthcare environment safe. Thank you to the more than 20,000 faculty and staff who have already received their booster shots. For those who have not already done so, we strongly encourage you to get your booster shot as soon as you are eligible and submit the documentation to update your records.
Booster shots are now conveniently available at local pharmacies, supermarkets, and many other locations you can find through the NC DHHS directory. To find options at Duke facilities, you can visit the Duke COVID Vaccine website.
The CDC has said that individuals can choose any of the three boosters now authorized regardless of the manufacturer of their original dose(s). Duke medical experts suggest that anyone who received the J&J vaccine preferentially gets a booster shot of either Pfizer or Moderna, which have been proven highly effective in preventing infection and severe illness.
Booster shots of the COVID-19 vaccines are safe, effective, and free. While existing data suggests the Omicron variant appears to cause fewer cases of severe illness, it is also much more contagious than the Delta variant and can spread much more quickly, threatening our education, research, and healthcare activities. Getting the booster can help protect our patients, their loved ones, and each other, as well as ensure that our hospital and clinical resources are available to support the community during a time of urgent need.
These steps will help limit a potential outbreak in our facilities and in our community and protect those most vulnerable to this virus. Additional information and resources, including options to get a booster shot, can be found on the Duke COVID Vaccine website. You may also submit questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The update below was emailed to all staff on July 22, 2021
Consistent with our values and commitment to zero harm for our patients and team, Duke University Health System (DUHS) has revised our COVID-19 vaccination requirements. All team members, regardless of work location, must receive and show documentation of their completed COVID-19 vaccination(s) by 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021.
Duke’s vaccine requirement is a condition of employment and applies to everyone who works or trains at DUHS – which includes all team members, providers, volunteers, students/learners, residents, those who are job shadowing and temporary employees.
The new mandatory COVID vaccination policy does allow limited exemptions. Team members seeking approved medical or religious exemptions must submit their application by Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2021. Application forms are available here.
To achieve compliance, you must complete and submit documentation of the two-dose series of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, or receive an approved exemption by Tuesday, Sept. 21 at 10 a.m.
If you received your complete vaccination series through Employee Occupational Health & Wellness (EOHW), you do not need to submit documentation. If you received your vaccination(s) in the community (such as a retail pharmacy or a Duke patient clinic), you will need to submit your vaccination documentation here.
Team members who do not comply will receive a final written warning and face progressive administrative action, potentially leading to termination of employment.
DUHS made the decision to require vaccination against COVID for three key reasons:
- We are committed to keeping our patients, team members, and the community safe and healthy. Similar to our existing influenza vaccination policy, the COVID vaccine requirement aligns with our core value of “caring for our patients, their loved ones, and each other.”
- While about 75 percent of team members have been vaccinated, we need to increase that percentage to keep everyone safe.
- The new Delta variant is very dangerous, spreads rapidly, and is highly contagious.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported July 16 that new cases of COVID-19 are up by nearly 70 percent in just one week, due largely to the Delta variant. Hospitalizations are up by nearly 36 percent. Current infection rates overwhelmingly are in unvaccinated people who are being infected with the Delta variant.
DUHS joins dozens of other health systems in the U.S. – including North Carolina’s Atrium Health, Cone Health, Novant Health, UNC Health in the Triangle and Wake Forest Baptist Health – that are requiring their employees to become vaccinated.
Please visit our website for additional information, including frequently asked questions. Thank you for taking this important step to keep yourself, your families, our patients and communities safe.
Third dose now available for immunocompromised
Duke Health is now offering the third dose of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to people whose weakened immune systems put them at the highest risk of serious, prolonged illness. This offering follows the FDA’s emergency use authorization, which is based on research that found the third vaccine dose offers these patients additional protection against the virus.
The CDC recommends that people with moderately to severely compromised immune systems receive an additional dose of mRNA COVID-19 vaccine at least 28 days after the second dose of Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.
Team members who meet these criteria and have been fully vaccinated for at least 28 days may schedule an appointment for a third dose at our Duke Employee COVID Vaccination Clinic located at Blue Devil Tower. Third doses for team members are also available at our DUH, DRH, and DRAH Employee Vaccination Clinics, and walk-in vaccinations are accepted at these locations with no appointments necessary.
Patients and members of the community who meet these criteria may schedule an appointment or visit one of our walk-in clinics to receive their additional dose of the vaccine. You may also call the COVID-19 hotline at 919-385-0429, 5:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. 7 days a week, to schedule an appointment for vaccination.
Learn more about the COVID-19 Vaccine
Watch one of our recent Duke Health Leadership Town Halls to learn more about our COVID-19 vaccination plans. Panelists included Dr. Tom Owens and Rhonda Brandon who addressed our vaccination operations, Dr. Cameron Wolfe who provided updates on the spread of the Delta variant, and Trisha Choi who discussed our visitor restrictions moving forward. The town hall was moderated by Katie Galbraith, president of Duke Regional Hospital.
Frequently Asked Questions
Duke University Health System (DUHS) – in alignment with the North Carolina Healthcare Association (NCHA) position statement – has revised our health care worker vaccination requirements. Consistent with our values and commitment to zero harm for our patients and team, DUHS now requires that all health care team members, regardless of work location, must receive and show documentation of completed COVID-19 vaccination by 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021, as a condition of employment.
The revised policy applies to all DUHS team members, which includes providers, volunteers, students/learners, residents, those who are job shadowing and temporary employees.
Consequences of non-compliance include a final written warning, unpaid administrative leave, followed by termination.
Team members who get the two-dose vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) need to be aware of the waiting period between the two doses. If you are on vacation between now and the deadline, please plan accordingly to ensure all doses are completed by 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021. Please note that the last day to begin vaccination with the Pfizer vaccination series and still be compliant with this policy is Sept. 3. If team members have not begun their vaccination series by Sept. 3, they will need to receive the Johnson and Johnson vaccine to be compliant with this policy. If you are unable to complete the vaccination series (i.e., not get the second dose), you will be non-compliant and will face administrative action.
The new mandatory COVID vaccination policy does allow limited exemptions. Team members seeking approved medical or religious exemptions are encouraged to submit their application as soon as possible and must submit their application by Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2021. Applications take about one week to process.
DUHS team members are required to submit documentation of two doses of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
If team members have received their full, complete vaccination(s):
- Through Employee Occupational Health & Wellness (EOHW), they do not need to submit documentation
- At community locations, such as at a retail pharmacy or a Duke patient clinic, they must submit vaccine documentation.
Students, faculty and staff can now check to ensure their vaccination status has been recorded by Student Health or Employee Health by logging in to the secured Status Check website at https://dco31.oit.duke.edu/statuscheck/. If your documentation has not been recorded, you can upload an image of your completed vaccination card at https://covid-19.dukehealth.org/vaccine-information.
Yes. This revised policy applies to all DUHS team members – regardless of work location.
DUHS made this decision for three key reasons:
- We are committed to keeping our patients, team members and the community safe and healthy. Similar to our existing influenza vaccination policy, the COVID vaccine requirement aligns with our core value of “caring for our patients, their loved ones and each other.”
- While about 75 percent of team members have been vaccinated, we need to significantly increase that percentage to keep everyone safe.
- The new Delta variant is very dangerous, spreads rapidly and is highly transmissible.
Similar to how flu vaccination compliance is monitored, Duke’s Office of Occupational and Employee Safety will maintain reports on COVID vaccination status. Managers will monitor these reports and educate team members about the policy.
On July 22, 2021, a joint announcement was made between Duke University Health System, Atrium Health, Cone Health, Novant Health, UNC Health in the Triangle and Wake Forest Baptist Health. The joint announcement stated that vaccines will be required at all of these health care organizations.
In addition, DUHS joins dozens of other health systems in the U.S. that now require, or are in the process of requiring, their employees to become vaccinated. This includes:
- Barnes-Jewish Hospital
- Houston Methodist
- Johns Hopkins Hospital
- Medical University of South Carolina Health
- New York-Presbyterian
- St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
- Trinity Health (across 22 states)
- University of California Health
- University of Pennsylvania Health System
- Yale New Haven Health
Current infection rates are due overwhelmingly to unvaccinated people who are being infected with the Delta variant. Similarly, those hospitalized with the COVID-19 virus are more likely to be unvaccinated. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported July 16 that new cases of COVID-19 are up by nearly 70 percent in just a week, due largely to the Delta variant. Hospitalizations are up by nearly 36 percent. Those percentages will continue to increase until there is widespread vaccination.
The revised DUHS vaccination policy is based on scientific data from public health and infectious disease experts around the U.S., which show the vaccines to be both safe and effective in significantly reducing COVID transmissions. This is especially important for health care workers. Vaccination helps protect you from getting sick or severely ill with COVID, and it protects those around you – family, patients, coworkers, friends and your community.
The appointment for vaccination will take approximately 30 minutes, including a 15-minute observation period after receiving the vaccine.
For your first dose of the vaccine, please bring your mobile phone, employee ID and a government-issued ID. Make sure to keep the card you are given after you receive your vaccine. Bring this card with you for your follow-up appointment.
The COVID-19 vaccine is being given by Duke Health team members who have been specially trained to administer it.
You may experience some side effects after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. This is common and is a normal sign that your immune system is building protection. Common side effects include injection site reactions (redness, swelling or pain), fever, fatigue, headache, chills, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle pain and/or joint pain. If this occurs, it is still necessary to receive the second dose for the vaccine to be fully effective. Some people report having more intense side effects after their second dose of vaccine. Please keep this in mind and aim to schedule your vaccinations when you will be off of work for 1-2 days. This handout may help you decide if you should contact the employee COVID-19 Hotline for advice after receiving your vaccination.
If you begin to experience symptoms after receiving the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, you should reach out to Employee Occupational Health and Wellness. Based on the symptoms you are experiencing, refer to this handout to determine if you should call the COVID hotline.
We maintain strong relationships with the health department and other community organizations. We have been working with these partners since the beginning of the pandemic and are currently collaborating with them to identify those populations and how to reach them to distribute the vaccine. We realize that a significant number of people will not be able to travel to a specific location and are working to develop an operational plan to reach these populations.
No. EOHW and IP will continue to work together on contact tracing and exposure notifications regardless of vaccination status at this time.
Yes. Team members may present to work after a household COVID-19 exposure only if the following conditions are met:
- The team member completed a COVID-19 vaccine series.
- 14 days have elapsed since the second dose of the vaccine for Pfizer and Moderna or one dose of Johnson and Johnson prior to the exposure.
- The team member remains asymptomatic, agrees to symptom monitoring and testing and immediately reports to the COVID hotline should symptoms develop.
- The team member agrees to be tested day 5-7 post-exposure and to undergo additional testing beyond the first test as directed by Employee Health.
- The team member continues to do their best to isolate from the infected individual in their home.
- The team member agrees to strictly comply with masking while in the same room as others and only removes their mask at work when in a room alone with the door closed.
No. Team members who develop signs or symptoms of COVID-19 should not report to work and should call the COVID-19 hotline to notify EOHW and arrange testing regardless of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine series.
Our goal is to continue with all COVID-19 infection prevention bundle elements until we see sustained decreases in the following metrics:
- Community COVID-19 prevalence rates
- The number of COVID-19 hospitalizations
- The number of COVID-19 cases among DUHS team members
By continuing testing and contact tracing/notification post-exposure we will have local data on vaccine efficacy and durability to help inform when we can roll back some of the elements.
Available Resources for Team Members and Patients
- Duke Health Revised COVID-19 Vaccination Requirements for Health Care Workers Frequently Asked Questions
- Information for Staffing and Volunteering at Vaccination Clinics
- Vaccination Talking Points for Patients and Community
- After Your Vaccine: When to Contact the COVID-19 Hotline
- Directions to DUH COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic for Employees
- Directions to DRH COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic for Employees
- Directions to DRAH COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic for Employees
- North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Vaccination Plan
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration COVID-19 Vaccine Webpage
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID-19 Vaccine Webpage