Mayo Clinic is dismissing about 700 workers for failing to comply with a vaccine-mandate policy at the Rochester, Minnesota-based health system.
Employees had until Monday to either receive their first shots or obtain an exemption for medical or religious reasons, the StarTribune reported. Mayo Clinic said it granted the majority of exemption requests.
Mayo Clinic, regarded as the nation's finest hospital, introduced its policy last year, saying it was necessary to provide the safest possible environment at the clinic. People come from all over the world for treatment there.
"While final numbers are still not available, nearly 99% of staff across all Clinic locations have complied with the required vaccination program, meaning they have been vaccinated or have received medical or religious exemptions," the clinic 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."
Mayo Clinic is Minnesota's largest employer. It also operates hospitals and clinics in Arizona, Florida, Iowa, and Wisconsin.
"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."
Vaccine mandates have been controversial across the country.
Employers in some industries nationwide have required their workforces to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and fired employees who have refused. In September, North Carolina-based Novant Health let go nearly 200 of its more than 35,000 employees for failing to get vaccinated, according to WSOC-TV.
In November, the Biden administration announced vaccine mandates, requiring healthcare facilities that get federal funding and companies with 100 or more employees to have their workforces fully vaccinated. The mandates have been challenged in court, with the U.S. Supreme Court set to hear arguments over their validity on Friday, according to Reuters.
The challengers maintain that President Joe Biden and his administration have overstepped their authority.
Employers are currently unsure how to proceed, with some concerned about losing staff in a tight labor market if they impose vaccine or testing requirements, said Todd Logsdon, a lawyer based in Louisville, Kentucky, who represents companies on workplace safety, reported Reuters.
"The quicker they can issue the decision the better," Logsdon said of the Supreme Court.
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