On Jan. 4, 2022, one of the top ranked hospitals in United States, Mayo Clinic, terminated 700 of its employees for refusing to get COVID-19 vaccinations. The 700 terminated employees represent approximately one percent of the hospital’s workforce.1
The hospital issued the following statement:
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.2
Mayo Clinic Faced Backlash Over COVID Vaccine Policy
In December 2021, the Mayo Clinic faced opposition to over its mandatory COVID vaccine policy for all employees. In response to the COVID vaccine requirement, 38 lawmakers wrote and signed a letter to the hospital asking them to revoke the policy.3
Peggy Bennett, a Republican member of the Minnesota House of Representatives who spearheaded the letter, said that lawmakers had heard that many Mayo Clinic employees were concerned about the policy.4
The letter stated:
This top down, heavy-handed, all-or-none employee policy does not fit the reputation or image we know the Mayo Clinic to have. Religious exemptions seem to be difficult to obtain and inconsistent. There are examples of one spouse working at Mayo receiving the religious exemption and the other spouse did not. No one will share with employees why they were denied. This is all highly disheartening, especially considering that Mayo is an institution that was founded upon religious principles and by Franciscan Sisters with sincerely held religious beliefs5
The letter continued:
Your amazing employees stepped up under unimaginable pandemic conditions over the last year and a half, exposing themselves and their families to a then mostly unknown virus and working long, grueling hours to take care of sick patients. Many of your employees were sickened by the virus at that time. They did all this willingly to serve Mayo Clinic patients and the people of Minnesota. They did so for all these months without the protection of any vaccine.
COVID Vaccine Mandates Contributing to Health Care Worker Shortage
In addition to the milder Omicron variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus temporarily causing major health care worker staffing problems,6 the worker shortage is further exacerbated by the termination of thousands of health care workers who did not comply with the COVID-19 vaccine mandate.7
In September 2021, Rick Pollack, CEO at the American Hospital Association said, “As a practical matter, this policy may result in exacerbating the severe workforce shortage problems that currently exist.”8
The fear of a shortage of nursing and other health care worker staff has resulted in some medical facilities not requiring the COVID-19 as a condition of employment. James Magee, director at Arkansas’ Community Hospital said that they would not mandate the vaccine at his 25 bed rural facility due to the concern of losing too many staff. He said, “Mandating that really works a hard step on the smaller hospitals because we don’t have an extra pool of nurses to draw from out there.”9
Some Hospitals Asking Staff Who Test Positive for SARS-CoV-2 Are Returning to Work
Eleanor Slater Hospital, a state run hospital in Cranston in Rhode Island allowed asymptomatic (and presumably vaccinated) health care workers who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 to help cover shifts amid an ongoing staffing shortage in the hospital. Five staff members who tested positive for the virus were allowed by hospital administration officials to come into the hospital to cover some shifts. Within days, the hospital had an outbreak of the SARS-CoV-2 virus with 28 out of 200 patients testing positive for the virus.10
The hospital website states:
The decision to utilize Covid-positive staff who are asymptomatic is consistent with CDC guidance that allows hospitals facing significant staffing challenges to utilize asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic workers.11
Vaccinated Persons Can Get Infected with and Transmit SARS-CoV-2
According to a study published in July 2021, vaccinated and unvaccinated persons have similar viral loads in communities where the Delta variant of SARS-Cov-2 is circulating.12 The CDC website states:
For people infected with the Delta variant, similar amounts of viral genetic material have been found among both unvaccinated and fully vaccinated people. However, like prior variants, the amount of viral genetic material may go down faster in fully vaccinated people when compared to unvaccinated people. This means fully vaccinated people will likely spread the virus for less time than unvaccinated people.13
Similar to the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2, vaccinated persons who get infected with the Omicron variant, which reportedly is predominating in most states, also can spread the virus to other people. The CDC website states:
Current vaccines are expected to protect against severe illness, hospitalizations, and deaths due to infection with the Omicron variant. However, breakthrough infections in people who are fully vaccinated are likely to occur.14
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Click here to view References:
1 WCCO TV Staff. Mayo Clinic Fires 700 Unvaccinated Employees. Minnesota CBS Jan. 5, 2021.
3 Da Silva C. Mayo Clinic fires 700 workers who failed to comply with Covid vaccine mandate. NBC News Jan. 5, 2022.
5 Peggy Bennett. Minnesota House of Representatives. House.leg.state.mn.us Dec. 8, 2021.
6 Suro P. Staffing shortages reach unseen levels following spike in omicron cases. 11 Alive Jan. 4, 2022.
7 Muoio D. How many employees have hospitals lost to vaccine mandates? Here are the numbers so far. Fierce Health Care Jan. 5, 2022.
10 Sherman E. Outbreak hits Rhode Island hospital after COVID-positive staff called in to work. Fox Lexington Jan. 7, 2021.
11 Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities & Hospitals. Emergency Alerts. Bhddh.ri.gov Jan. 7, 2022.
12 Riemersma KA, Grogan BE, Kirta-Yarbo A, et al. Vaccinated and Unvaccinated Individuals Have Similar Viral Loads in Communities with a High Prevalence of the SARS-CoV-2 Delta Variant. medRxiv July 31, 2021.
13 U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Delta Variant: What We Know About the Science. Aug. 26, 2021.
14 CDC. Omicron Variant: What You Need to Know. Dec. 20, 2021.