ROCHESTER, Minn. — Approximately 700 Mayo Clinic employees were fired this week for failing to comply to the company's COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
The nonprofit medical center gave all employees until Monday, Jan. 3, 2022 to receive at least their first dose of the vaccine or provide a medical or religious exemption. According to a statement from the Mayo Clinic, about 1% of the 73,000 total employees failed to comply to those requirements.
While Mayo Clinic didn't provide an exact number of employees who failed to meet the vaccine requirement, the statement reads that it's comparable to what other health care organizations have faced.
"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," Mayo Clinic's statement reads. "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."
The statement adds that most of the medical or religious exemptions were granted.
The full statement reads:
The deadline for Mayo Clinic employees to become compliant with Mayo’s required vaccination program was Jan. 3. This means staff were required by Jan. 3 to receive at least one dose of vaccine and not be overdue for a second shot, for Moderna and Pfizer. Only medical or religious exemptions were granted.
As Mayo Clinic shared on Jan. 3, staff continued to get first doses of COVID-19 vaccine on Jan. 3 to become compliant with the required vaccination program. Several staff also received their first doses the weekend before Jan. 3. As these vaccinations were being administered and processed on Jan. 3, final numbers were not yet available for required vaccination program compliance.
Some media reports have included incorrect estimates for the number of staff being released from employment as a result of noncompliance with the required vaccination program. 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. 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. The majority of medical or religious exemption requests were granted.
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. 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. 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.
Mayo Clinic is deeply grateful to our staff who are working tirelessly and showing tremendous dedication to delivering the highest level of care to our patients in extremely challenging circumstances. With the rising wave of infections from the omicron variant, Mayo Clinic also urges all who are not vaccinated to get vaccinated as soon as possible. And if you are eligible for a booster, Mayo Clinic urges you to get a booster as soon as possible to help protect your health and the health of everyone around you.
On Monday, protesters gathered in Rochester, where Mayo Clinic's headquarters are located, to speak out against the mandate. KTTC, an NBC affiliate out of Rochester, reports dozens were in attendance, including those who were granted medical or religious exemptions.
State House Minority Leader Rep. Peggy Bennett wrote a letter last month to Mayo Clinic President and CEO Dr. Gianrico Farrugia asking for the mandate to include "consciousness opt outs" as well as medical and religious exemptions.
"Though 100 percent employee vaccination may be ideal according to Mayo guidelines, we do not believe it is ethical, nor is it realistic," the letter, which was signed by 38 lawmakers, read in part. "We have had a healthcare worker shortage in Minnesota for quite some time, especially in rural areas where the Mayo Clinic predominantly serves. Losing even a small number of doctors and nurses because of an excessive employee vaccine mandate puts our healthcare system at risk."
The letter continued:
"How can we as Minnesota legislators rationalize investing state money for healthcare worker shortage programs and grants if those hospitals then turn around and fire those employees, thereby exacerbating the problem? We will not support state funding for programs like these, or any other funding, for any healthcare facility that fires their employees due to unrealistic vaccine mandate policies."
According to data released on the Wednesday, the Minnesota Department of Health says 8,783,387 total doses of vaccine have been administered in the state, with 3,764,738 people age 5 and older having received at least one shot (72.2%). Of that number 3,530,683 people have completed their COVID series and are considered completely vaccinated (67.7%).
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