Essentia dismisses 49 employees over vaccine mandate

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Essentia Health says it has dismissed dozens of employees who chose not to be vaccinated for COVID-19 and did not seek an exemption.

The health care provider first announced the requirement in early August, setting Nov. 1 as the deadline to be vaccinated or seek an excemption. Essentia said in a statement Tuesday that more than 99% of its workforce had complied with the deadline, but 49 employees did not.

"While we’re sad to see them leave, we respect their decisions. We appreciate their good work, wish them well and these individuals are eligible for rehire at Essentia Health if they change their mind," the statement read.

The statement suggested that more people could be dismissed if their exemptions are not approved.

"The judicious evaluation of exemption requests continues. Until this process is complete, the full impact on our staffing will not be known," the statement said.

The policy affects all Essentia employees, including remote workers, along with volunteers, students, non-employed medical staff, board members and others who provide services within Essentia facilities.

St. Luke’s clinics and hospitals announced a vaccine mandate around the same time as Essentia. St. Luke’s reported last month that 27 employees had quit over their organization’s vaccine mandate.