WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWTI) — Samaritan Health has terminated several employees after they were marked out of compliance with the state’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

Samaritan Medical Center Director of Communications and Public Relations Leslie DiStefano confirmed on Tuesday that the hospital has terminated 28 employees after they did not receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

According to DiStefano, these employees were first on a two-week administrative leave as of September 27 and were officially terminated on October 11.

It is unfortunate for Samaritan and the entire community to lose even one healthcare worker in our region,” DiStefano stated. “We do respect individual choice, but ultimately we have to follow state guidelines.”

All healthcare workers in New York State were required to receive at least the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by September 27. Workers were to be fully vaccinated by October 7. Each healthcare institution was responsible for developing a plan to implement the mandate.

As of October 5 at Samaritan Medical Center, 82% of hospital workers had completed their vaccine series. In Jefferson County on October 12, 85% had completed the full series and 90% of hospital workers in the North Country region had completed the vaccine series.