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Sanford Sees Broad Compliance with Vaccine Mandate—Managers, Call the Refuseniks’ Bluff!

After much anti-science shouting from a minority of its employees, Sanford Health noted last week that 97% of its workers had complied with its coronavirus vaccine requirement and thus reduced coronavirus infections:

The company, which bills itself as one of the largest rural health care systems in the country, has a total of about 48,000 employees. Based on its estimates, fewer than 1,500 employees system-wide remained unvaccinated.

More than 90 percent of clinicians and 70 percent of nurses in the organization were already fully vaccinated when the mandate was announced this summer, system officials said. Sanford officials on Friday would only provide the overall vaccination rate among all employees.

“The vaccine mandate has worked,” Dr. Doug Griffin, Sanford’s vice president and medical officer in Fargo, said in a statement. “As a result of our high employee vaccination rate, we have also seen a decline in Covid-19 infections and sick leave among staff” [“Sanford: 97% of Workforce Complying with Vaccine Mandate,” AP via MPR News, 2021.10.29].

Many of those 1,500 foot-draggers appear to have gotten their priorities straight. On Monday’s deadline for all employees to get their shots or get an exemption, only 82 resistors remained for Sanford to suspend:

The number of those suspended varies across Sanford’s footprint, and totals less than 1% of its workforce, Sanford Health noted.

Suspension include:

  • 31 in Fargo
  • 28 in Sioux Falls
  • 16 in Bismarck
  • 7 in Bemidji

None of the 31 suspended in Sanford’s Fargo region were physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners or certified registered nurse anesthetists, said Dr. Doug Griffin, Sanford Fargo vice president and medical officer, in a statement [Jeremy Fugleberg, “Sanford Suspends Just 82 for Refusing Covid-19 Vaccine; less than 1% of Workforce,” Fargo Inforum, 2021.11.01].

Health care systems around the country are reporting comparably small percentages of vaccine refuseniks. So is the New York Police Department:

Only a few a dozen NYPD members were placed on unpaid leave Monday after refusing to get the COVID-19 vaccine — but thousands of unvaccinated employees remain on the job with pending exemption requests, the city’s top cop said.

Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said 34 cops and 40 civilian members of the force — which account for fewer than .15 percent of NYPD employees — did not comply with Mayor Bill de Blasio’s mandate requiring most city workers to get their first jab by Monday.

“That’s very fluid. That could go up as the day goes on,” said Shea, referring to NYPD members forced on unpaid leave, while adding that applications for medical or religious exemptions are still pending [Craig McCarthy and Tina Moore, “Here’s How Many NYPD Cops Are on Unpaid Leave over Vax Mandate,” New York Post, 2021.11.01].

Those low suspension numbers send a pretty clear message to managers of organizations committed to protecting and serving the public: if your employees are howling about your organization’s vaccine mandate, call their bluff. Most will realize that their anti-science shouting and political posturing isn’t worth losing a good job. The few who still would put their anti-science partisanship ahead of the safety of the people they signed on to serve are liabilities to your organization and should get the boot.


  1. Donald Pay 2021-11-03 09:20

    In my job, I had to be up to date on vaccinations, take various training courses, etc., etc. It was a legal requirement. We served people with health problems, and protecting their health was the point of all this. It wasn’t necessarily for my health. When you serve people, you have to do things for them that you may let slide in your personal life. I can see if you’re a custom harvester, maybe a vaccination requirement is overboard, but if you are in close contact with people in delicate health, it makes sense. I can also see it as a means to keep the workforce on the job. Our agency had a flu shot clinic every October, where shots were dispensed for free. It wasn’t mandatory, but if you got the flu shot, you would get three extra vacation days. Most people out with the flu usually were out for 4-5 days, so, of course, we lobbied unsuccessfully for more. Extra benefits are another way to go, rather than a mandate.

  2. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-11-03 10:28

    Sanford gave its employees ten months to wait and watch for people to start sprouting horns from the vaccine. That was quite the caution and courtesy. Waiting time is long past. Health care workers, cops, other workers serving the public with regular daily contact, get your shots or go home.

  3. Neal 2021-11-03 12:02

    And despite all your incessant bleating and fear mongering, STILL only 52.8% of South Dakotans are fully vaccinated.

    You think it’s going to go up now that kids are authorized to take it? Afraid not.

    And what happens when half the people who got the “vaccine” decide not to get the infinite number of boosters that will be pushed on us? 52.8% might be the highest it ever gets.

    What happened in Virginia yesterday is going to happen writ large in a year.

  4. larry kurtz 2021-11-03 12:07

    The erasure of public education and the Balkanization of US health and medical care is exactly what the extreme white wing of the Republican Party intends to blow up America then replace it with a new world order where a supernatural extraterrestrial lords over all.

  5. mike from iowa 2021-11-03 14:18

    Neal says the Virginia election was a fraud and the loser actually won? Wasicus, like Neal, aren’t breeding fast enough to keep up with damn fools dying because they have a dog given right to throw their lives and others away.

  6. jerry 2021-11-03 14:43

    Gaia thanks Neal for his ignorance and wishes him a part of the human die off that his phony Rapture knocking on the door. Should be quite a crap show when republicans take over to steal from themselves. The Taliban i.e., republican, will find out that governing the US completely will be much like their brethren in Afghanistan, a complete failure. Then we will see the prophetic words of the Vietnam War.

    “A quote from the Vietnam War ‘It became necessary to destroy the town to save it” as reported by Peter Arnett (if you believe him). It came to symbolize a war out of control with no logic or common sense. It has been recycled to a more slogan-able “We had to destroy the village in order to save it” and trotted out by the anti-war crowd as a regular trope. It may actually be accurate for perhaps the first time. “

  7. Mark Anderson 2021-11-03 14:59

    Oh Neal, are you in symphony with the hundreds of Qs who gathered in Dallas today to hear John F. Kennedy Jr. speak? He’s supposed to win the Presidency and Trump will be elevated to a king like status. Of course he’s been dead for around a decade but that doesn’t bother a trumpie.
    So only 52 percent, wow. I’m getting my booster on the 10th. Next summer when I travel to South Dakota I’ll try to bring along a little kindness for you. Of course I wouldn’t want to force the vaccine on you. You deserve some hospital time, maybe a little horse medicine will help the impact. As Woody Woodbury said at least you won’t have worms. He’s still alive by the way, 97.

  8. Porter Lansing 2021-11-03 15:11

    South Dakota, a fully Republican majority state.
    Vax rate = 52.8%

    Colorado, a state where not one Republican holds statewide office.
    Vax rate = In Colorado, 3,888,215 people or 67% of the state has received at least one dose. Overall, 3,541,185 people or 61% of Colorado ‘s population has been fully vaccinated.

    What’s left over when the best and brightest have moved away for a hundred years?
    A depleted gene pool of ignorance and willful suicide.

  9. Mark Anderson 2021-11-03 15:27

    By the way folks, since JFK Jr. didn’t show the Qs are posting that Keith Richards is really JFK Sr., since the Rolling Stones played in Dallas. I don’t know who’s leading the Qs by the nose, but maybe Lester Bangs isn’t really dead either.

  10. Guy 2021-11-03 16:12

    Porter, come on. . . I think that’s a bit of a stretch to make a correlation between the two. No, it’s not a “bit of a stretch,” it’s a huge stretch with no scientific correlation.

  11. bearcreekbat 2021-11-03 16:28

    An extreme emotional reaction is caused by the extremely powerful human physiological response to fear. Regardless of the various other claims or justifications for refusing the vaccine, the main motivator for every single anti-vaxer is plain old fear. They don’t trust the folks that say vaccines have been tested and are safe, so they fear that taking the vaccine will lead to an adverse physical reaction, an implantation of a government monitoring device or a myriad of other problems that they have heard about on right wing sources or are products of the active imaginations of friends, family and/or themselves. Without fear of some serious harm from the vaccine it seems doubtful that a mere dislike of needles would be much of a motivator. And when the fear is irrational, the problem of attempting to calm the fearful becomes significantly compounded.

    Given the political makeup of the majority of South Dakota these days, along with the hucksters like Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, et al, and politicians that have figured out how to cash in on the spread of irrational fear, perhaps a 52% vaccination rate is higher than what might have be expected.

  12. Guy 2021-11-03 16:44

    Bat, that’s why it’s sometimes good to just let it go rather than beat a dead horse. After a while of others beating that dead horse, people just start tuning them out.

  13. Mark Anderson 2021-11-04 01:06

    Let’s see, we need a very high rate of people to be vaccinated to be back to normal. Apparently Republicans like the new pandemic normal. Maybe they view covid as an endangered species?
    Maybe the want their parents retirement money before their parents spend it all? Maybe their mostly stupid? Maybe they fear needles? Maybe they want Biden to fail and their willing to die for the cause? Maybe they believe it has a secret Soros implant? Anyone else care to jump in?
    By the way Guy, they do like horse medicine, so they aren’t afraid to let a horse get wormed to death.

  14. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-11-04 05:47

    Neal, are you celebrating the fact that a huge minority of South Dakotans are refusing to take the simplest and most effective action that would bring covid under control and prevent hundreds, maybe thousands more South Dakotans from dying? Yours is a strange value set.

  15. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-11-04 05:50

    The success of Sanford’s vaccine mandate suggests the “fear” to which BCB attributes vaccine refusal isn’t all that deep-seated but may be more of a convenient excuse for politically tinged stubbornness and posturing.

  16. ds 2021-11-04 09:47

    Too bad for Rapid City kids that The South Dakota DOH sent all of the allocation of 5-11 year old Covid-19 vaccinations to Sanford in Sioux Falls. So as of yesterday 1/3/2021 East River kids are getting protection whereas West River kids are NOT! There is conflicting dates being quoted on local print and broadcast alleging that Monument will start vaccination here in Rapid City on Saturday 6th…But NO i checked with Monument the date for Rapid City is Nov 13th…And i checked with SD DOH and they admitted that Sanford requested 1st and got all the doses…

  17. Jake 2021-11-04 12:19

    I just checked and compared our state Covid death rate for so far in Nov of’21 with Nov ’20–shocker, it’s almost double last year’s! Neal and Guy would have us believe that the Covid mandate is a flawed policy-but if they are fortunate to have kids-they have been probably vaccinated for measles-because of a mandate. Measles kills, did kill many, but vaccines have almost made it extinct.
    Guy and Neal and others like you are simply making it a stand against Biden, by refusing to vaccinate. Why don’t you just admit it?

  18. Anne 2021-11-04 15:13

    The resistance to Covid vaccines seems to be largely based upon a juvenile belligerence–“no one’s going to tell ME what to do.” To be in a public school, it is required by law to be vaccinated for poliomyelitis, diphtheria, pertussis, rubeola, rubella, mumps, tetanus, meningitis, and varicella. That is also a requirement of most private schools because of lawsuits. The arguments against vaccine mandates are not comprehensible, but do designate something about the intelligence level of those who try to make them.

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