ROCHESTER — While the final numbers are still being tallied, Mayo Clinic reported Tuesday, Jan. 4, that “nearly 99%” of its 73,000 employees are now vaccinated against COVID-19 or have received an exemption for religious reasons.

That means 1% of the staff, or about 730 employees, did not get vaccines to comply with Mayo's mandate that they announced this summer, and will lose their jobs, according to Mayo.

The final stragglers attempting to meet Mayo Clinic’s deadline of being vaccinated received their first doses on Monday, Jan. 3.

“While final numbers are still not available, nearly 99% of staff across all Mayo Clinic locations have complied with the required vaccination program, meaning they have been vaccinated or have received medical or religious exemptions,” Mayo Clinic spokesperson Kelley Luckstein said in a statement. “This means that approximately 1% of staff across all locations will be released from employment as a result of the required vaccination program. This is comparable to what other health care organizations have experienced in implementing similar vaccine requirement programs. The majority of medical or religious exemption requests were granted.”

Mayo Clinic did not release specific numbers about how many employees were terminated at all locations or specifically in Rochester.

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“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. 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,” wrote Luckstein.

To be considered compliant with the vaccination rule, staff were required by Jan. 3 to receive at least one dose of the vaccine and not be overdue for a second shot of either the Moderna and Pfizer formulations.

Some long-time Mayo Clinic employees who were fired for not getting the vaccination declined to comment for this article for fear of community retaliation against either themselves or their families.

Mayo Clinic’s staff vaccination program includes everyone who works for Mayo Clinic, including contractors, vendors, students, research temporary professionals and volunteers.

Mayo Clinic emphasized that this mandate was about safety.

“Patients come to Mayo Clinic expecting to receive care in a safe environment, and 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,” wrote Luckstein.