Leon County rescinds vaccine mandate due to new state law

Leon County rescinds its vaccine mandate
Leon County rescinds its vaccine mandate(WCTV)
Published: Dec. 6, 2021 at 6:05 PM EST
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Due to a new state law, passed during Florida’s special session in November, Leon County will no longer require vaccination against COVID-19 as a condition of employment.

In a statement, County Administrator Vince Long says the County will follow the new legislation, but argues the original mandate did not violate existing law at the time.

Long announced the policy in mid-July and had support from most of the County Commission.

Employees had until October 1 to be vaccinated; they could also chose to file a form requesting an accommodation.

36 forms were filed, and 30 accommodations were granted.

The County ultimately terminated 14 employees over the policy.

The County currently faces more than $3.5 million in fines for terminating the employees who chose not to be vaccinated by the October 1st deadline.

Long’s full statement can be read below.

“Every single day over the last 21 months of combating the pandemic, Leon County’s emergency response and mitigation efforts have been entirely informed by expert public health guidance and completely consistent with a plain reading of existing law. In July, when Delta cases were surging and vaccinations were plummeting the county instituted an employee vaccination requirement as a condition of employment. These actions were absolutely necessary to take given the volatility, uncertainty and highly infectious nature of this deadly virus, in order to keep our employees safe, protect the public, and ensure our readiness as a frontline response organization.

That said, the legislation passed in special session (HB 1, Section 3) prohibits Leon County from requiring employee vaccinations going forward and we intend to of course follow this new law, which became effective Nov. 18.

With respect to Leon County’s employee vaccination requirement that went into effect on July 28 and for which the Department of Health issued a Notice of Violation, consistent with Board direction, the county will defend its legal authority to have instituted an employee vaccination mandate not inconsistent with existing law at that time.”

Vince Long, Leon County Administrator

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