Roughly 1% of Mayo Clinic staff let go for vaccine noncompliance

Mayo Clinic says it is laying off roughly 1% of its staff across all locations for not cooperating with the health care system’s COVID-19 vaccine policy.

Mayo set a Jan. 3 deadline for all employees to get at least the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Most religious or medical vaccine exemption requests were accepted.

"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," the health care system said in a 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."

Mayo announced it would require the COVID-19 vaccine for employees back in July. And in October, the company set the January deadline to get the shot.

Sister station KAAL in Rochester spoke to Kathy Kerssen, a 19-year employee at a Mayo Clinic optical store. She was part of the 1% who lost their jobs for refusing the vaccine.

"I stayed till I got fired. I’ve never left a job. I’ve never been fired before," she said.

Kerssen was among a group of Mayo Clinic employees protesting the vaccine requirement on Monday.

"My views don’t matter," she said. "Just because I hold certain views to be true. … It didn’t matter. I’ve just always believed in where I worked. Until now."

There have been several legal challenges to vaccine mandates, including an order from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration requiring vaccines for employees of businesses with 100 or more workers.

The OSHA requirement, put in place at President Joe Biden’s urging, was initially blocked by a federal judge, but the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinatti overruled that decision last month. The mandate is now set to take effect on Monday.

Republican state attorneys general and right-wing groups alike have vowed to appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.