Jan. 6, 2022 -- The Mayo Clinic fired 700 employees this week who didn’t comply with its COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

The medical center, which is Minnesota’s largest employer, has major campuses in Arizona, Florida, and Minnesota and operates hospitals in Iowa and Wisconsin.

Employees had until Monday to get vaccinated or receive approval for an exemption. On Tuesday, the hospital fired those who didn’t meet the requirement, according to Action News Jax, a CBS affiliate in Florida.

The 700 employees make up about 1% of Mayo Clinic’s 73,000-person workforce. So far, none of the employees at the campus in Jacksonville, FL, have been affected, the news outlet reported.

“Florida staff who are not in compliance with our vaccination program remain employed pending the outcome of litigation related to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services requirements,” a Mayo Clinic spokesperson told Action News Jax.

The federal government and Florida remain at odds over vaccine mandates, and several lawsuits are winding through the court system. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation in November that bans private Florida employers from requiring all employees to get vaccinated and calls for various exemption options, according to The Florida Times-Union. The state law clashes with a federal rule that requires vaccinations for all health care workers at hospitals that receive Medicare and Medicaid funding.

The Mayo Clinic mandate required employees to receive at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose and not be “overdue” for a second dose, according to the statement. Only medical and religious exemptions were allowed, and most medical and religious exemptions were approved.

“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,” Mayo Clinic wrote in its 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.”

With the latest surge in COVID-19 cases due to the Omicron variant, the Mayo Clinic also encouraged unvaccinated people to get a shot and those who are eligible for a booster to get one “as soon as possible.”

“Based on science and data, it’s clear that vaccination keeps people out of the hospital and saves lives,” according to the statement. “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.”

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Action News Jax: “Mayo Clinic fires 700 employees who failed to comply with vaccine mandate.”

The Florida Times-Union: “Mayo Clinic fired about 700 unvaccinated staff. None came from Jacksonville -- yet.”

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