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Maine begins enforcing health worker vaccine requirement

The Maine vaccine mandate put in place by Democratic Gov. Janet Mills requires hospital and nursing home workers to get vaccinated or risk losing their jobs.

MAINE, USA — EDITOR'S NOTE: The video above aired Oct. 13, 2021.

The deadline for Maine to begin enforcing a vaccine requirement for health care workers has arrived. 

Northern Light Health has announced that unvaccinated workers will no longer work at its 10 hospitals as of Saturday. 

In Lewiston, Central Maine Medical Center is already in compliance. 

The Maine vaccine mandate put in place by Democratic Gov. Janet Mills requires hospital and nursing home workers to get vaccinated or risk losing their jobs. 

The state is set to begin enforcing the mandate Friday. 

Andy Mueller, CEO of MaineHealth, has said he expects to lose 1.5% to 2% of staff systemwide but that those losses will be offset by fewer COVID-19-related absences.

RELATED: MaineHealth seeing 10% vacancy in workforce as hospitals' capacity challenges continue

Mueller also said MaineHealth has seen a significant decline in COVID-related absences by staff since the state imposed a COVID vaccine mandate for all health care workers in Maine.

"It's very clear to us that the vaccine mandate really helps protect and preserve our workforce," Mueller said during a press conference Tuesday.

"We don't see the vaccine mandate really being the cause of our shortage. This is a shortage that has been brewing for quite some time," he added.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to stop mandating COVID-19 vaccines for Maine health workers.

RELATED: 3 things you need to know from Maine's COVID-19 briefing: October 27, 2021

Justice Stephen Breyer rejected the emergency appeal but left the door open to try again as the clock ticks on Maine’s mandate. 

It was the first time the Supreme Court weighed in on a statewide vaccine mandate. 

The court previously rejected challenges of vaccine requirements for New York City teachers and Indiana University staff and students.

 EDITOR'S NOTE: The video below aired Sept. 2, 2021.