Community members speaking out against updated Mayo Clinic vaccination policy

Published: Oct. 25, 2021 at 6:21 PM CDT
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LA CROSSE, Wis. (WEAU) - Health care workers and other community members are standing against Mayo Clinic Health System’s stricter staff vaccination mandate.

Mayo Clinic required all staff to be fully vaccinated or complete a declination process by Sept. 17, but a new update is tightening that policy.

A recent message to hemodialysis technician Tom Brunner and other staff put new vaccination dates in place, along with new consequences for being unvaccinated.

“We had the option to either get the vaccine or decline it…as of last week it recently changed, stating that we had to file for a medical exemption or a religious exemption,” Brunner detailed. “Dec. 3, if you don’t have an exemption or are unvaccinated, you will be put on unpaid leave, and I believe Jan. 3 is the termination date.”

Brunner says there was some indication from Mayo Clinic that a stricter policy could be put in place after the initial mandate, but it was unclear that losing your job would be included.

“When we first were able to decline, the way they had worded one of their articles for staff was, there may be other measures, and it just was left as a generic, broad view of that,” Brunner recalled.

Mayo Clinic says its staff vaccination rate is at 88%, and the health system is requiring the vaccine in consideration of the safety of patients and staff.

Regional Chair of Mayo Clinic Health System of Southwestern Wisconsin Michael Morrey said in part in a statement:

“Making COVID-19 vaccination a requirement to work at Mayo Clinic will help ensure we have a healthy workforce and that Mayo Clinic is a safe place to receive care — just as our patients expect. Our staff have done a remarkable job caring for patients all throughout this pandemic, including following protocols of masking, social distancing and other safety practices including getting vaccinated on behalf of protecting patients, fellow staff members and our community.”

Brunner says he and others who are against the mandate are speaking out with one ultimate goal in mind.

“Ideally, it would be to allow all exemptions,” Brunner explained. “We would like to be able to see everyone be able to choose on their own and not be coerced into something else that they don’t agree with.”

Mayo Clinic says a review process will be available for staff to seek medical or religious exemptions to vaccination.

Staff are required to receive the vaccination or apply for an exemption by Nov. 8, but unpaid leave for those who remain unvaccinated won’t begin until Dec. 3.

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