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Of the more than 14,000 people employed by Duluth-based Essentia Health in Minnesota, Wisconsin and North Dakota, a total of 49 have been fired for failing to meet the healthcare company's COVID-19 vaccine mandate. 

Ninety-nine percent of Essentia Health's approximately 14,100 employees have been vaccinated or applied for an exemption, Essentia Health said. On Monday, 49 employees were fired "because they decided against vaccination and chose not to seek an exemption," the company said in a statement to Bring Me The News. 

"While we’re sad to see them leave, we respect their decisions. We appreciate their good work, wish them well and these individuals are eligible for rehire at Essentia Health if they change their mind," the company statement said. 

Vaccine mandates have become increasingly common at healthcare institutions in Minnesota and across the country. 

"At Essentia, it is both our privilege to care for patients and our obligation to keep them safe. That’s why, like so many health care systems across the country, we require our employees to be vaccinated against COVID as a condition of their employment," Essentia Health's statement concluded. 

According to the Pine Journal, St. Luke's Hospital in Duluth had 27 of its approximately 3,000 employees resign after learning of a Oct. 1 vaccine deadline. St. Luke's is not part of the Essentia Health system. 

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