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Leon County leaders mandate vaccines for employees to best serve community

Leon County
Posted at 7:14 PM, Jul 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-29 19:15:15-04

LEON COUNTY, Fla. (WTXL)  — Leon County mandates vaccines for all county employees.

The new mandate requires all employees to get fully vaccinated by Oct. 1, with exceptions to people who are unable to be vaccinated due to an ADA-covered disability, a doctor-certified diagnosed medical condition, or “a sincerely held religious belief.”

The county administrator Vincent Long said the decision came down to the numbers.

Right now, Leon County has less than 50 percent of people fully vaccinated, while COVID-19 cases have doubled in the last seven days.

Long said he believes Leon County was the first in the country to require vaccinations of all employees.

"I haven't heard any objections from county employees, I'm sure there will be some," Long said.

Long added if that happens and it leads to a lawsuit, the county is prepared.

"Our county attorney is very well versed in the law as this is considered and certainly we'd be in a position to define that."

Tallahassee attorney Don Pumphrey said Leon County has the right to make this mandate since they have made expectations, but the governor could still get involved.

"And if the governor did get involved in it, it would be interesting to see if it would carry any weight and whether or not the judicial system and an evaluation of that would find that he has that authority," Pumphrey said.

In a statement, Desantis' Press Secretary Christina Pushaw said:

"Governor DeSantis stands for individuals' rights to medical privacy and opposes discrimination in all its forms. The provision that any public employees who decline to show proof of vaccination will be fired, is coercive and appears discriminatory on its face."
Desantis' Press Secretary Christina Pushaw

Pumphrey said he doesn't think it's likely DeSantis would override a mandate on a safety concern for public health.

"He has a lot of power. He has the power of the entire executive branch of government but again he is there to enforce the law, he's not there to make the law," Pumphrey said.

The county is also requires county employees to wear masks in county buildings.