Central Florida hospital employees voice concerns over company’s COVID-19 vaccine exemption form

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Some local hospital employees are worried they could lose their jobs if they don’t get a COVID-19 shot or fill out their hospital’s religious or medical exemption form.

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Employees said the hospitals have given them until Dec. 4 to get their first dose or fill out a religious or medical exemption form, and some said they would prefer using the state’s forms because it’s not as intrusive.

Now, Halifax employees are waiting to see if the hospital will accept that, or if they’ll have to work somewhere else.

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The hospital’s exemption form asks employees how long they have held their religious belief underlying the objection, and if they’ve received a vaccine as an adult against any diseases.

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Officials with Halifax Health released the following statement:

“Through the Florida law that passed last week, private employers are prohibited from mandating COVID-19 vaccines for employees without the opportunity for the employees to obtain one of several exemptions, including a religious exemption.  The forms you reference, created by the Department of Health, are for use by private employers, not public employers, like Halifax Health.  As such, we will continue to use the forms our health system has issued for both religious and medical exemptions, and Team Members must have an approved exemption or be fully vaccinated by January 4, 2022.

As you know, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services vaccine rule, at this time, remains in place, which requires healthcare workers to be vaccinated as a Condition of Participation.  Unless and until there is court action that changes that, we must abide by federal law due to the detrimental consequences to the hospital resulting from the potential pullback of payments from the Medicare and Medicaid programs.

We are hopeful our Team Members will comply with the federal mandate, and all who feel the need may submit an exemption form. In addition, we are following Florida Hospital Association’s recommendation as outlined in the attached memo.”

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Adam Poulisse, WFTV.com

Adam Poulisse joined WFTV in November 2019.