Leon County threatens to boot unvaccinated employees

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Leon County will soon require a COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of employment for both new and existing employees.

In an interoffice memo first reported by the Tallahassee Democrat, County Administrator Vince Long says the provision ensures “operational readiness” amid a resurging pandemic. Employees will have until Oct. 1 to prove vaccination or face termination.

“As an employer, we are required to provide a safe work environment for employees, and unvaccinated employees pose a significant risk to spread the virus,” Long wrote in the memo. “As an essential government agency, we are obligated to ensure our operational readiness to serve our community, and virus outbreak among our workforce that could have been avoided pose a very real threat to our operational readiness.”

The condition of employment, likely among the first of its kind in the state, comes as COVID-19 rates surge among unvaccinated populations.

With a recent daily average of roughly 10,452 cases, Florida is third in the country (behind Louisiana and Arkansas) for the most cases, according to The New York Times.

While authorities work to address the spread of the highly contagious delta variant, health officials stress that vaccinations remain the best way to protect oneself and others.

Still, vaccination rates are lagging among younger demographics.

According to data released from the Florida Department of Health, 59% of the state’s eligible population has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

And while those 65 and older are 84% vaccinated, only 38% of Floridians ages 20-29 are vaccinated. Those ages 30 to 39, meanwhile, are 46% vaccinated.

Under the employment condition, an employee may be granted an accommodation if they present a “doctor certified diagnosed medical condition” or claim a “sincerely held religious belief.”

However, those granted an exemption must wear a mask at all times and may be subject to a weekly COVID-19 test.

“This is very simple and very serious,” wrote Long.


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