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UMass Memorial Health last week fired more than 200 employees who refused to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

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Dr. Eric Dickson, CEO and president, said that while the health care facility needs the employees, it had no choice but to let go of the employees who failed to heed a federal vaccine mandate.

“Sadly, we did terminate over 200 people for not getting vaccinated,” Dickson confirmed Friday in an interview. “We could have used them because we need everyone we have right now.”

The health care facility, which has several locations in the state and some 15,000 employees, ordered mandatory vaccinations in August with a Nov. 1 deadline for getting the shots or to secure an exemption from getting the shot.

Those who were non-compliant received letters at their homes, emails, and outreach from managers and administration. Those who remained non-compliant were placed on unpaid leave effective Nov. 15.

If employees did not get the shot or an exemption by Dec. 1, they were terminated, according to UMass Memorial Health.

According to a hospital spokeswoman, fewer than 1% of employees were given an exemption from the vaccine.

Dr. Andrew Karson, the health care provider’s chief medical officer, said that “so far, there has been minimal impact to operations, and we anticipate there will be minimal impact.”