The Mayo Clinic is terminating about 1% of its 73,000 employees for failing to comply with its COVID-19 vaccination requirement by Monday's deadline.
The needs of its patients come first and the Mayo Clinic stands firmly behind the evidence supporting the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines, the Rochester, Minnesota-based health system said in statement. The health system didn't share the exact number of workers it let go.
"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 health system said in a 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." Mayo announced its vaccine mandate last July.
To comply with the requirement, workers must have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose by Jan. 3. In addition, those who were eligible for a second dose by that date needed to have gotten it. The not-for-profit health system accepted most requests for medical and religious exemptions, according to the organization.
Mayo—Minnesota's largest employer—noted that the 1% of employees terminated because of its vaccination requirement is comparable to other health systems.
"Based on science and data, it's clear that vaccination keeps people out of the hospital and saves lives," Mayo said in a statement. "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."
COVID-19 vaccination mandates have become a tightrope for health systems as they muddle through a severe nursing shortage exacerbated by the pandemic. Some hospital operators are desperate to hold onto nurses and fear a mandate would worsen the situation, especially as the omicron variant causes more hospitalizations.
With President Joe Biden's COVID-19 vaccine mandates in legal limbo, several large health systems have scrapped their own mandates except in states where they're still required. Nashville-based HCA Healthcare, Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare and the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio are among those that have paused their mandates.
The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments Friday on whether to permit the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' vaccination mandate for healthcare workers and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's mandate for most private sector employees to take effect while several lawsuits challenging them are under appeal.