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Mayo Clinic will require COVID-19 vaccines for all its staff

Those who decline will be required to wear masks and socially distance while on campus.

Minnesota's most famous health system has become the latest provider to require all its staff to get vaccinated for COVID-19.

The Rochester institution made the announcement Monday, saying all staff must be fully vaccinated for the virus or "complete a declination process" by Sept. 17.

While those who choose to decline the vaccine will keep their jobs, they will be required to complete education modules, and wear a face masks at all times and socially distance while on campus.

The Mayo Clinic's announcement comes days after South Dakota-based Sanford Health, which has a major presence in western Minnesota, said it would be mandating the vaccine for its staff as the delta variant of COVID-19 causes cases to rocket in parts of the U.S., disproportionately hitting areas with low vaccination rates.

"We are proud of our staff's high vaccination rates and are grateful that the vast majority have embraced the opportunity to get vaccinated," said Gianrico Farrugia, M.D., Mayo Clinic's president and CEO, in a statement.

"Our patients expect to be safe when they come to Mayo Clinic, and we need to do everything we can to protect everybody."

The rule will be in effect for all Mayo Clinic staff irrespective of location, and while the Mayo says it's seen good voluntary take-up of the vaccine from its staff, it's taken the measure due to "increasing cases of COVID-19 nationally, poor vaccination rates in many communities, and the threat of variants."

"Getting vaccinated for COVID-19 is the single most important thing all of us can do to protect our patients, visitors, colleagues and communities," Dr. Farrugia added.

On Monday, more than 50 medical groups including the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Nursing, and the American Academy of Pediatrics signed a statement calling for the mandatory vaccination of all healthcare workers.

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