(KBJR) Essentia Health has fired about 50 employees because they refused to get flu shots.
The health care provider set a Monday deadline for employees to get flu shots or receive an exemption for medical or religious reasons.
Chief of patient quality and safety, Dr. Rajesh Prabhu said Essentia's mandatory approach came down to two things, a desire to increase patient safety and an understanding that Essentia's 82 percent flu vaccination rate from 2016 wasn't going to change voluntarily.
Advertisement - story continues below
"Purely voluntary or more education doesn't get you those high levels of immunization compliance and as you know other states, other health care organizations have done the same thing we have," he said.
Since September, Essentia has told employees, volunteers, students and vendors they have three options: get the flu shot, get an approved religious or medical exemption, or leave Essentia.