MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Time is up for some Minnesota health care workers to get their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Many health systems are requiring them, and Friday is the deadline for employees at Hennepin Health care, Essentia and Allina Health.

WCCO spoke to an Allina Health nurse who wished to stay anonymous in fear of employer retaliation. She said the vaccine mandate ignited concerns over losing jobs. She added that she knows a couple of people who will be fired. Fortunately, her religious exemption was approved.

“Aborted fetal tissues was used to come up with the COVID injection. As a Christian, I’m a 100% against that,” the nurse said.

As reported by UCLA Health, COVID vaccines do not contain aborted fetal cells. Johnson & Johnson have used fetal cell lines — not tissue — when developing and producing their vaccine, and Pfizer and Moderna used fetal cell lines to test their vaccines. UCLA Health reports that fetal cell lines are lab-grown and “thousands of generations removed from the original fetal tissue.”

Allina Health required all employees to get their first dose by Friday or have an approved exemption. So far, more than 95% of Allina Health employees have met the deadline. In a statement, Allina said the rest of the employees will “be processed through our traditional human resources measures.”

Employees fear that could worsen workforce shortages. Sam Fettig, the spokesperson for Minnesota Nurses Association, said in a statement:

“Years of intentional understaffing and cost-cutting left hospitals poorly equipped to handle the pandemic. The burden of those choices fell on patients and nurses at the bedside, who were not provided adequate personal protective equipment, guaranteed time to wash their hands between patients, or paid COVID leave.

“While vaccines are one step that nurses can take to protect themselves, they will not solve the understaffing crisis created by hospitals who have put their revenues ahead of nurses and patient care. There is no shortage of nurses who want to care for patients, there is a shortage of nurses willing to work under the conditions hospitals have created.”

Here is Allina Health’s full statement:

“Allina Health is proud that more than 95% of our employees have met the organization’s requirement of COVID-19 vaccination or approved exemption. Employees who do not have an exemption and have chosen not to get their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by October 1st will be processed through our traditional human resources measures.

We will continue to do everything possible to educate and assist our employees in their decision making process related to getting the vaccine. We believe the vaccine is the best tool we have to address the pandemic and protect our patients, employees and communities, especially those who are particularly vulnerable to COVID and those too young to be eligible for vaccination.”

Earlier this week, nearly 200 healthcare workers sued their employers to block impending vaccine mandates. The group behind the lawsuit include doctors, nurses and technicians.

Health Care System Vaccine Mandate Deadlines:

Allina Health: First dose Oct. 1, second dose by Nov. 1

Hennepin Healthcare: First dose Oct. 31, second dose by Nov. 31

Essentia Health: First dose Oct. 1, second dose by Nov. 1

M Health Fairview: Both influenza and COVID-19 vaccines by Oct. 31

CentraCare: Must complete their vaccination series by Dec. 15

Pafoua Yang