Unvaccinated Mayo Clinic employees fired as of Jan. 3

[anvplayer video=”5081351″ station=”998128″]

(ABC 6 News) – Kathy Kerssen worked at a Mayo Clinic optical store for 19 years. Monday she lost her job.

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

Mayo Clinic announced in October that anyone not vaccinated and not exempt by Jan 3. would be terminated. The private healthcare system did review medical and religious exemption requests, but some say they’re confused as to why their request didn’t get approved.

"My views don’t matter. No our views didn’t matter. Just because I hold certain views to be true…It didn’t matter. I’ve just always believed in where I worked. Until now," Kerssen said.

In a time where hospitals are short-staffed and the omicron variant is surging, legislators are stepping in and asking Mayo Clinic to leave the mandate behind.

"If everyone can catch it and everyone can spread it why are we firing these people that we need?" Representative Peggy Bennett (R – Albert Lea) said.

Mayo Clinic doubled down in a statement Monday morning — saying that they stand firmly behind the evidence supporting the efficacy and safety of COVID-19 vaccines. Minnesota Governor Tim Walz spoke supporting Mayo Clinic’s mandate in an interview with ABC 6 News last month.

"Mayo Clinic…Vast majority of their people are vaccinated. They’ve been able to keep their hospital beds open. They’ve been able to treat Minnesotans, and we’ve been able to keep people alive — and that’s the goal," Walz said.

He firmly agreed with Mayo Clinic’s resolve.

"We now have people who need to get in and get care and can’t get it because unvaccinated people chose to take up beds. So I applaud the Mayo Clinic’s work on this," Walz said.

ABC 6 News reached out to Mayo Clinic and asked exactly how many people were fired today and how many got religious or medical exemptions. However, they said they won’t release any specific information until a later date.