(NEXSTAR) – Approximately 700 workers with Mayo Clinic are being terminated for failing to comply with the medical center’s vaccination deadline.

The employees, who represent approximately 1% of Mayo Clinic’s workforce, were required to be vaccinated by Jan. 3, unless otherwise exempt for medical or religious reasons. Those who were “released from employment” this week will still be allowed to re-apply for positions within Mayo Clinic’s hospital system if they become vaccinated in the future.

“While Mayo Clinic is saddened to lose valuable employees, we need to take all steps necessary to keep our patients, workforce, visitors and communities safe,” reads a statement, in part, from the medical center.

The statement further said that Mayo Clinic “must stand firmly behind the science supporting the efficacy and safety of COVID-19 vaccines to help protect the health and safety of our patients, workforce, visitors and communities.”

Mayo Clinic’s vaccine requirement program had mandated that all employees (approximately 73,000) receive at least one dose of an approved COVID-19 vaccine by Jan. 3. Those who received one dose of Moderna or Pfizer were not allowed to be late for their second dose by the Jan. 3 deadline.

The majority of workers who filed for exemption based on medical conditions or religious beliefs were granted their requests, the medical center claimed.

“Based on science and data, it’s clear that vaccination keeps people out of the hospital and saves lives. That’s true for everyone in our communities — and it’s especially true for the many patients with serious or complex diseases who seek care at Mayo Clinic each day.”

Mayo Clinic, meanwhile, is one of many hospital systems across the nation to be suffering from staffing shortages caused by the omicron variant. Leaders from the facility, along with the heads of eight other Minnesota hospital systems, recently penned a full-page newspaper ad to warn of workers who were “overwhelmed” and emergency wards that were “overfilled.”

“How can we as a society stand by and watch people die when a simple shot could prevent a life-threatening illness?” reads a portion of the ad.

Mayo Clinic has major campuses in Rochester, Minnesota; Scottsdale and Phoenix, Arizona; and Jacksonville, Florida. The Mayo Clinic Health System also operates smaller facilities in other states.