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Atrium Health COVID-19 vaccine requirement prompts questions from workers

The CDC said there have been almost no severe allergic reactions to any of the COVID-19 vaccines.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — An Atrium Health nurse said she and some of her co-workers are anxious about the process for obtaining a vaccine exemption after the healthcare system announced it'll require all employees to be vaccinated for COVID-19 by Halloween.

The nurse, who asked not to be identified because she's not authorized to talk to news media, said she's not anti-vaccine, but she wanted Atrium Health to provide more specifics on how it'll review vaccine exemption requests based on medical or religious reasons.

RELATED: Novant, Atrium to require employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19

"I actually got really nervous and scared," the nurse said. "There are a lot of our colleagues that have gotten the vaccines, and they're comfortable with their decision, but there [are] people that have questions."

The nurse said she got hives on her upper arm after getting flu vaccines in the past.

"How are they going to ensure that they don't deny someone, and they get this vaccine and there's an adverse reaction?" she asked.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there have been almost no severe allergic reactions as a result of the COVID-19 vaccine.

The CDC said some patients could be allergic to polyethylene glycol, which is found in the Pfizer and Moderna shots.

In a statement, Atrium Health said, "We value our teammates who have medical or religious reasons for not receiving the vaccine and will evaluate these requests through a multidisciplinary committee. At this point, we have not yet begun to evaluate anyone’s individual request for exemption, so any and all conversation about what may or may not be an outcome for someone is purely speculative."

Atrium Health said it also provided information to employees explaining how they can address concerns with supervisors. 

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StarMed Healthcare requires all of its employees to get vaccinated.

Chief Medical Officer Dr. Arin Piramzadian said with any medication, there's always an allergic reaction risk though the risk is greater for unvaccinated people getting infected with the COVID-19 delta variant.

"The reality though is the number of serious allergic reactions that have occurred are minimal," Dr. Piramzadian said. "Vaccines are pretty much the most important thing that we've ever had to stop illnesses from spreading."

For more information on the CDC's guidance on COVID-19 vaccines and allergic reactions, click here.

Contact Brandon Golder at bgoldner@wcnc.com and follow him on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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