Around 700 healthcare workers are out of a job for failing to get vaccinated. The Mayo Clinic has a strict COVID-19 vaccination policy and workers had until last Monday to comply. The company said employees had the option of applying for religious or medical exemptions, most of which were approved. Now that the deadline has passed, the holdouts will have to either find work elsewhere or quit the field altogether.
The Mayo Clinic is known for treating patients from all over the world for complex and rare conditions. It has locations in several states with its headquarters in Rochester, Minnesota. To ensure a safe working environment, the company announced that all staff members would need to get vaccinated by early January.
Most of the staff complied with the policy, but around 1% of the workforce did not.
“While final numbers are still not available, nearly 99% of staff across all Mayo Clinic locations have complied with the required vaccination program, meaning they have been vaccinated or have received medical or religious exemptions,” the company said in a statement.
“This means that approximately 1% of staff across all locations will be released from employment as a result of the required vaccination program. This is comparable to what other health care organizations have experienced in implementing similar vaccine requirement programs.”
Several other major health systems in the state have taken similar actions to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Minneapolis-based Allina Health recently let go of 53 employees for not getting vaccinated with 99.8% of its staff complying with the mandate.
Sanford Health, which runs facilities in the Dakotas and Minnesota, recently suspended less than 1% of its workforce for not getting vaccinated.
This comes after the Biden Administration announced its own vaccine requirements for healthcare workers. The government says health facilities may be in danger of losing federal funds if their workers aren’t vaccinated. The mandate also applies to companies with more than 100 employees.
However, the U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear arguments over the federal vaccinate mandate on Friday. As a result, many Minnesota employers have put their mandates on hold.
Despite the layoffs, the Mayo Clinic said its staff has been working hard to comply with the mandate, which says that workers must receive at least one dose of the vaccine by January 3rd and not be late for their second shot if they are taking a two-dose vaccine.
“While Mayo Clinic is saddened to lose valuable employees, we need to take all steps necessary to keep our patients, workforce, visitors and communities safe,” the clinic said in the statement. “If individuals released from employment choose to get vaccinated at a later date, the opportunity exists for them to apply and return to Mayo Clinic for future job openings.”
“Based on science and data, it’s clear that vaccination keeps people out of the hospital and saves lives,” the company said. “That’s true for everyone in our communities — and it’s especially true for the many patients with serious or complex diseases who seek care at Mayo Clinic each day.”
The resignations come just a few weeks after nurses in the state complained of staffing shortages.
Just before the holidays, nurses with the Minnesota Nurses Association held a press conference where they pleaded with hospital CEOs to address the staffing crisis.
“To our patients, I want to say this: Nurses will be here when you need us,” said Mary C. Turner, union president and a COVID-19 intensive care unit nurse. “To our hospital CEOs and elected officials, please hear us: Nurses need more than words, we need action to address the crisis of staffing and retention in Minnesota hospitals.”
The recent departures may make the staffing crisis worse, but at the least these workers will be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.