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News about coronavirus in Florida and around the world is constantly emerging. It's hard to stay on top of it all but Health News Florida can help. Our responsibility is to keep you informed, and to help discern what’s important for your family as you make what could be life-saving decisions.

Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville Requiring Employees To Be Vaccinated

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The requirement extends to all Mayo Clinic facilities. Staff who decline to be vaccinated against COVID-19 must complete education modules and will be required to wear masks and socially distance.

The Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville is requiring employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Sept. 17 or complete a "declination process."

The requirement extends to all Mayo Clinic facilities. Staff who decline to be vaccinated against COVID-19 must complete education modules and will be required to wear masks and socially distance when on campus.

Although it didn’t cite an exact percentage, the Mayo Clinic said it has had high rates of voluntary staff vaccination.

"We are proud of our staff's high vaccination rates and are grateful that the vast majority have embraced the opportunity to get vaccinated," said Gianrico Farrugia, Mayo Clinic's president and CEO, in a news release. "Our patients expect to be safe when they come to Mayo Clinic, and we need to do everything we can to protect everybody."

Mayo is joining dozens of health systems across the country that require employee vaccinations because of increasing cases of COVID-19 nationally, low vaccination rates in many communities and the rising threat of coronavirus variants.

People who have not been vaccinated are at higher risk of severe disease, officials say. The Mayo Clinic pointed out that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 99.5% of COVID-19 hospital deaths in the U.S. are among unvaccinated patients.

Dr. Melanie Swift, co-chair of Mayo Clinic's COVID-19 Vaccine Allocation and Distribution Work Group, said, "We really need to take advantage of this time right now, when we have the vaccines that are freely available for everyone to get vaccinated so that we can stop the spread of the delta variant, but also so we can prevent the development of new variants."

The longer the virus is allowed to spread, the more likely it will be to evolve into new variants that might outpace the effectiveness of current vaccines, she said. Those who are unvaccinated also more likely to transmit the coronavirus to others. 

"Getting vaccinated for COVID-19 is the single most important thing all of us can do to protect our patients, visitors, colleagues and communities," Farrugia said.

Bill Bortzfield can be reached at bbortzfield@wjct.org or on Twitter at @BortzInJax.

Copyright 2021 WJCT News 89.9. To see more, visit WJCT News 89.9.