The Mayo Clinic fires about 700 employees who have failed to comply with the obligatory policy of the Covid-19 vaccine nonprofit medical center.
Mayo Clinic staff had been given until Monday to receive their first dose of the vaccine or to obtain medical or religious relief from the law. They were also expected to get a second dose as soon as they got the first jab.
Hundreds of staff members failed to meet these requirements and were released, the Mayo Clinic said in a joint statement with NBC News on Wednesday.
"Approximately 99 percent of the staff at all Mayo Clinic sites adhered to Mayo's Covid-19 vaccination deadline by January 3," the clinic said of its staff, which has an estimated 73,000 employees.
The Mayo Clinic has said that about one percent of its staff, or about 700 people, "will be released from work."
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The clinic added that many requests for medical or religious relief by employees were accepted.
"While the Mayo Clinic is saddened by the loss of vital staff, we need to take all necessary steps to keep our patients, staff, visitors and communities safe," the clinic said.
However, she said the sacked workers would have the opportunity to return to the clinic if they chose to comply with its vaccination mandate.
"If people who have been fired choose to get vaccinated over time, there is a chance they can apply and return to the Mayo Clinic for future jobs," he said.
Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Mnn. About 700 medical workers have been fired for their immunizations. Kerem Yucel / AFP with Getty Images file
The Mayo Clinic is facing controversy over its policy, with 38 lawyers signing a letter to the hospital last month demanding that it repeal the law.
In a letter, edited by Peggy Bennett, a Republican member of the Minnesota House of Representatives, attorneys said they had heard "a large number of Mayo workers' most concerned" who had expressed concern about policy progress.
"This low-level, stricter staff policy, that everyone or no one does not match the dignity or image that we know the Mayo Clinic has," they said.
"Your amazing staff have come up with unimaginable epidemic conditions for the past year and a half, risking themselves and their families to an unknown virus at the time and working long, hard hours to care for sick patients," he said. "Many of your employees were infected with the virus at the time. They did all of this voluntarily to help Mayo Clinic patients and the people of Minnesota. They did so all these months without the protection of any vaccine."
Lawmakers say they are "not against the vaccine," but say that "people should make this decision based on the types and risks to them and not be forced or coerced to do so with the threat of losing their jobs."
Asked to respond to the letter, Mayo Clinic forwarded NBC News in its first statement.
In a statement, the clinic said "based on science and data, it is clear that vaccination keeps people out of the hospital and saves lives."
"That is true for everyone in our communities - and it is especially true for many patients with serious or serious illnesses who need care at the Mayo Clinic on a daily basis," he said.
During the spread of the highly variable omicron, Mayo Clinic said it "urges all non-vaccinated to get vaccinated as soon as possible. And if you qualify for a booster, Mayo Clinic urges you to get a booster as soon as possible to help protect your health and the health of everyone around you."