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Leon County tells FDOH employee COVID vaccination policy will continue

Posted at 11:31 AM, Oct 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-02 11:31:08-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — The Leon County government says it will continue with the ordinance for all county employees to provide proof of receiving a COVID-19 vaccination after the Florida Department of Health sent a letter stating the county was violating state law.

Leon County employees had until 11:59 p.m. October 1, 2021, to submit proof of a COVID-19 vaccine or face termination. Leon County Administrator Vince Long made the vaccine a condition of employment in July.

On Friday, FLDOH sent letters to Leon County and other local Florida governments telling them to rescind those policies.

"Leon County must both rescind its policy (in no event later than 11:59 p.m. on October 1, 2021)... and refrain from terminating any employees who decline to produce proof of vaccination," read the DOH letter to Leon County.

The DOH said fines may be assessed based on each employee required to submit proof of vaccination as a condition of continued employment.

The full letter can be read below.

Leon County Administrator Vincent S. Long issued a response to FDOH Saturday, saying, "because there have been media inquiries to this effect, Leon County recently received a request for information from the Florida Department of Health regarding the County’s vaccination requirement. There is a genuine disagreement about the applicability of the statute and rule, and the County will enforce its rights using any remedies available at law, if necessary."

Statement from the County Administrator:Leon County Government's Workforce Vaccinated Against COVID-19

As of this morning, October 2, all Leon County Government employees who did not request and receive a religious or medical accommodation are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, consistent with the County’s vaccine requirement as a condition of employment. I want to thank all of our employees for doing their part to minimize the very serious health risks to coworkers and their families and for helping to ensure our organizational readiness to provide essential services and to respond to the needs of the community we serve.

Following extensive employee outreach and a federally required process for medical and religious accommodations, more than 98% of all County employees received a vaccination or accommodation and less than 2% chose not to submit proof of vaccination. Specifically, 700 County employees chose to be vaccinated, 30 employees received an accommodation, and 14 did not submit proof of vaccination and were terminated at the end of day on Friday, October 1.

Leon County employees are on the front lines combating COVID-19, now for more than 19 straight months. They have risen to seemingly endless challenges and have adapted to perform their duties in ways none of us ever contemplated. And like far too many organizations, we have also lost beloved County team members to COVID-19, suddenly and tragically.

As we have done throughout the pandemic, Leon County will continue to do everything reasonable and responsible to protect our community, to provide a safe and healthy workplace for our employees, to ensure the uninterrupted provision of essential services, and to be ready to respond to changing and unknown challenges ahead.

And lastly, because there have been media inquiries to this effect, Leon County recently received a request for information from the Florida Department of Health regarding the County’s vaccination requirement. There is a genuine disagreement about the applicability of the statute and rule, and the County will enforce its rights using any remedies available at law, if necessary.

- Vincent S. Long, Leon County Administrator

Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering