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Leon Mandates Vaccines For County Employees

Two gloved hands are seen giving a shot in an arm.
National Cancer Institute
Four states and one city will participate in a federal pilot program of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Leon County government is giving employees until Oct. 1 to get vaccinated and show proof, or be terminated. The move comes amid a surge in new COVID-19 infections.

Leon County is requiring all its employees to get vaccinated or be fired. The county announced the move late Wednesday evening in a statement.

County Administrator Vince Long says he's not concerned about blowback from Gov. Ron DeSantis' office. The governor has resisted vaccine mandates.

The county says its authority to order mandatory vaccinations comes through the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and that the shots qualify as a condition for employment. The county is allowing waivers for employees who can’t get vaccinated due to a medical condition, disability or religious belief.

"It’s my belief the days of donut giveaways and gift cards as an incentive to become vaccinated—those days are over. And I think more and more employers will have to consider what’s right for them. Again, as a frontline governmental agency, this is the decision I believe strongly is the right one for us and our community," Long said in an interview with WFSU.

The move comes as COVID-19 cases in the state have jumped from a weekly low in June of about 10,500 infections, to last week’s high of more than 73,000. The rise in infections is being attributed to the highly contagious Delta Variant which is sickening mostly unvaccinated people.

According to the Florida Department of Health, Leon County’s vaccination rate sits at 51% for people over 12 years old. Long says a similar percentage of county employees have so far been vaccinated.

The City of Tallahassee says it's not considering a similar mandate at this time.

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Lynn Hatter is a Florida A&M University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lynn has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas.  She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative. 

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