More than 700 Mayo Clinic employees across the United States are out of work after failing to be vaccinated against coronavirus as a condition of employment, the nonprofit health organization said Wednesday.
All Mayo Clinic staff were instructed to receive at least one dose of a vaccine by Monday and not be late for another dose. Those who did not comply were released on Tuesday. These people made up about 1% of the Mayo Clinic’s total staff, a representative told HuffPost.
“While the Mayo Clinic is saddened by the loss of valuable staff, we need to take all necessary steps 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 is clear that vaccination keeps people out of the hospital and saves lives. This applies to everyone in our community – and this is especially true for the many patients with serious or complex illnesses who seek treatment at the Mayo Clinic each day, ”said the clinic.
Those who have been laid off this week are welcome to apply for future job openings if they are vaccinated at a later date, the clinic states.
The dismissals are nothing new. Hospitals across the country have adopted COVID-19 vaccine requirements since the shots became widely available last year, and facilities have dismissed those who did not comply or did not receive a proper exemption. Prior to the pandemic, many health facilities also had requirements for vaccine-preventable diseases such as influenza 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 are located, signed a letter asking the Mayo Clinic’s CEO and president to reconsider his vaccine mandate, which they called “unethical.”
The letter threatened to cut state aid to health programs that fire employees because of what it called “unrealistic vaccine mandate policies.” It further claimed, without supporting evidence, that “many” of Mayo Clinics’ employees “do not need this vaccine because they have naturally acquired immunity obtained from recovering disease.”
State Representative Peggy Bennett (R), who led the group effort, did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment Wednesday on the dismissals.
The U.S. Supreme Court is currently preparing to consider whether to block President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandates for large corporations and healthcare professionals. Opponents of his mandates say the federal government does not have the authority to create and enforce such mandates. Oral arguments on the case are scheduled for Friday.