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‘I don’t think any of us can repeat 2020 again’: County Administrator, Commissioners back decision to mandate vaccines for county employees

Published: Jul. 29, 2021 at 4:57 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - If you work for Leon County, you are now required to get a COVID-19 vaccine after an announcement from County Administrator Vince Long on Wednesday.

Employees have until October 1 to get fully vaccinated and accommodations are available to employees due to an ADA disability, a certified medical condition or a “sincerely held religious belief.”

Those who do not get vaccinated or are not granted accommodations will be fired.

Long says only about 50% of county employees are vaccinated. He says with rising COVID-19 cases in the community, it’s not an acceptable number.

“We’re always going to follow CDC guidance. That’s one thing the county has done from the very beginning. There’s enough confusion out there,” Long said.

The Governor’s Office calling the mandate “coercive”, saying it appears to be discriminatory.

Long says he has not heard specifically of any coming lawsuits.

“I’ve heard just generally, but again, frankly, I would really put that in the category of least of our concerns right now.”

He says they are prepared to respond.

“Our county attorney is very well versed in the law as this is concerned, and certainly, we would be in a position to defend that.”

Long has support from many Leon County Commissioners.

Commission Chair Rick Minor says it’s a difficult step to take, but it’s the right one.

“It’s very important that your county government has employees that are fully vaccinated because we need to create a safe workspace for the people that work within Leon County government, but also for the public at large that work with us,” he said.

Commissioner Bill Proctor says it’s time for the county to be clear and decisive. Commissioner Carolyn Cummings says this should have been done long ago. Commissioner Kristin Dozier urges other constitutional officers to require vaccinations. Commissioner Jimbo Jackson emphasized the county workforce has to be mobile and ready to respond to any natural disasters. Commissioner Brian Welch says he wishes he could convince people to get vaccinated without requiring it, but he has full faith in the county administrator.

The requirement does not apply to constitutional officers.

Commissioner Minor says he hopes all residents will get the shot.

“I don’t think any of us can repeat 2020 again,” he said.

Accommodation request forms will be available next Monday and are due by August 16 to allow employees whose requests may have been denied enough time to get vaccinated.

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