The State of North Carolina is working hard to see that COVID-19 is eradicated from the health facilities and congregate living facilities that it runs. 

This week, state health officials reported that, as of July 1, 77 percent of staff at state-operated health care facilities have been fully vaccinated.

The Division of State Operated Healthcare Facilities, part of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, runs 14 healthcare facilities that employ more than 10,000 workers. The percentage of staff vaccinated in that system is higher than the percentage in the state’s general population. However, state health officials want to see that number even higher since staff frequently works with those who are very vulnerable.

The 14 facilities comprising the system include state psychiatric hospitals, alcohol and drug abuse treatment centers, and two types of congregate living facilities: centers for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities and medical centers for older adults who require special care.

In the state’s six congregate living facilities, 93 percent of residents are fully vaccinated.

Earlier this year, The Division of State Operated Healthcare Facilities set a goal of having 75 percent of its facility staff vaccinated. Among long-term care facilities nationally, the average vaccination rate for staff is about 56 percent. 

Vaccinations for people working in the state’s facilities are voluntary.

Dr. Elizabeth Cuervo Tilson, the state health director, said it’s important to get the vaccination numbers as high as possible.

“By choosing to get vaccinated, our staff are delivering on our mission and protecting each other,” she stated in a press release announcing the latest stats. “With new and more contagious variants emerging, achieving this level of vaccination among both staff and patients is especially important in stopping the spread of the virus not only in these  but also among their families and loved ones and in their communities across the state.”