The Mayo Clinic has let go of about 700 workers — approximately 1% of its workforce — for failing to follow the organization's COVID vaccine requirements.
Employees of the world renowned health system had until Monday, Jan, 3 to receive at least a first dose of a COVID vaccine, or obtain an approved medical or religious exemption.
A Mayo Clinic spokesperson confirmed to Bring Me The News that just under 99% of its 73,000 employees across all its locations were in compliance by the deadline, meaning they'd received at least a first dose or were granted an exemption.
"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," a media statement from Mayo Clinic said.
The organization said the loss of about 1% of its workforce falls in line with what other health systems have seen. Both Becker Hospital Review and Fierce Healthcare have lists detailing resignations or dismissals from various health care systems due to COVID vaccine requirements. A few have reported losing as much as 5% of their workforce, but most say the loss has been 1% or less.
Last month, 38 Republican Minnesta lawmakers signed a letter addressed to Mayo Clinic, urging the health care system to replace its vaccine mandate with a "more reasonable" policy, arguing a 100% vaccination goal is not "ethical" or "realistic."
Wednesday's media statement from the Mayo Clinic does not directly address the letter, though reiterates the stance it has held since announcing the vaccination requirement last year.
"Our Mayo Clinic transitioned to a required COVID-19 vaccination program for all staff to advance the primary value of Mayo Clinic — the needs of the patient come first," the statement says. "This is a time when Mayo Clinic must stand firmly behind the evidence supporting the efficacy and safety of COVID-19 vaccines to help protect the health and safety of our patients, workforce, visitors, and communities."
The lawmakers' letter also accuses Mayo Clinic of being unfair and inconsistent in granting medical and religious exemptions to the mandate. Similar comments came up on Dec. 8, when Mayo Clinic neurologist Dr. James Watson spokes at a senate committee hearing.
But Mayo Clinic says the majority of exemption requests were approved.
Watson, when testifying last month, said review teams were looking for a "sincerely held religious belief," and noted rejected exemptions included things copy-pasted from the internet, or featured arguments focused on non-religious or political beliefs.
Mayo on Wednesday said if dismissed employees get vaccinated, they are welcome to re-apply for jobs with the health care system.
"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," the media statement reads.
"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."