New Jersey hospitals have severed the employment of hundreds of workers who have refused to get inoculated against COVID-19.

All employees of RWJ/Barnabas and Virtua Health had to show proof of vaccination status last Friday. On Monday, both hospital groups announced hundreds of workers had either been fired or quit after refusing to get vaccinated.

RWJ/Barnabas is New Jersey's largest hospital group with 15 hospitals and dozens of other outpatient centers and facilities that employ 35,000 people. The company says 118 individuals have been let go for refusing to comply with their vaccination mandate.

At Virtua, which operates 5 hospitals, 7 urgent care centers, and more than two dozen primary care offices in South Jersey, they announced 120 employees had "elected to discontinue their employment" rather than get vaccinated.

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For both groups, the terminated employees made up approximately 1% of their total workforce. RWJBH and Virtua offer medical and religious exemptions. Employees who qualify are subject to regular COVID testing.

Unfortunately, about 120 people have elected to discontinue their employment due to the vaccination policy. While that is their right, we had hoped they would have chosen to receive this very safe and effective vaccine in order to protect themselves, our patients, and others. Vaccines are our best hope for reducing serious illness, long-term health problems, and loss of life from COVID-19. - CEO Dennis W. Pullin, Virtua Health

Staffing shortages have plagued healthcare systems, and neither group would provide specific data about what types of positions were lost or whether included doctors and nurses.

RWJ/Barnabas officials told NJ.com more than half of the 118 workers that were terminated were occasional workers, who filled in across the network.

Virtua CEO Dennis Pullin issued a statement saying the lost workers "represent a variety of roles throughout the health system," and they were working to fill the vacancies.

New Jersey's second-largest hospital group, Hackensack Meridian Health, has also mandated vaccines for its workers, but the deadline for them to be vaccinated is November 15. HMH officials had said 99% of its employees had already been vaccinated.

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