More than 700 Mayo Clinic employees throughout the U.S. are out of a job after failing to get vaccinated against the coronavirus as a condition of employment, the nonprofit health organization said Wednesday.
All Mayo Clinic employees were instructed to receive at least one dose of a vaccine by Monday, and not be overdue for a second dose. Those who did not comply were released from employment Tuesday. These individuals made up approximately 1% of the Mayo Clinic’s total staff, a representative told HuffPost.
“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 medical clinic said in a statement, adding that the majority of medical and religious exemption requests were approved.
“Based on science and data, it’s clear that vaccination keeps people out of the hospital and saves lives. 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 clinic said.
Those terminated this week are welcome to reapply to future job openings if they get vaccinated at a later date, the clinic said.
The terminations are nothing new. Hospitals across the country have enacted COVID-19 vaccine requirements since the shots became widely available last year, and facilities have fired those who did not comply or who did not receive proper exemption. Many health care facilities, prior to the pandemic, also had requirements for vaccine-preventable diseases like the flu and measles.
Still, there have been a number of lawsuits and objections over COVID-19 vaccine mandates.
Last month, 38 lawmakers in Minnesota, where the clinic’s headquarters is located, signed a letter that asked the Mayo Clinic’s CEO and president to reconsider its vaccine mandate, which they called “unethical.”
The letter threatened to cut state funding to health care programs that fire employees over what it called “unrealistic vaccine mandate policies.” It further claimed, without supporting evidence, that “many” of the Mayo Clinics’ employees “do not need this vaccine because they have naturally acquired immunity gained from recovered illness.”
State Rep. Peggy Bennett (R), who led the group effort, did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment Wednesday on the terminations.
The U.S. Supreme Court is currently preparing to consider whether to block President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandates for large businesses and health care workers. Opponents of his mandates say the federal government does not have the authority to create and enforce such mandates. Oral arguments on the matter are scheduled for Friday.