Coronavirus: Florida law enforcement leaders urging, but not requiring, officers to get vaccinated

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Data shows more officers have died from the Coronavirus this year than in 2020.

Since the start of the pandemic, more than four times as many officers have died from COVID-19 than from gunfire.

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The “Officer Down Memorial Page’ now says getting vaccinated is just as important as wearing a bullet-proof vest or seatbelt.

Orange County Sheriff John Mina is among the local law enforcement officials pleading with his deputies to get vaccinated.

“Being a law enforcement officer is a dangerous job, and every year, brave men and women die in the line of duty protecting the communities they serve,” Mina said. “As law enforcement officers, we must do everything we can to protect ourselves from COVID-19.”

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In 2020, the Coronavirus took the lives of 248 law enforcement officers nation-wide.

“That’s more than all other line-of-duty deaths combined,” Sheriff Mina said.

Mina has been encouraging, but not requiring, his deputies to roll up their sleeves.

Leaders in other cities across the country, like New York and Chicago, have mandated vaccines for first-responders.

READ: Traces of the Mu variant have been found in this city’s wastewater

Meanwhile, the Plantation Police Department in South Florida is now being investigated by the Florida Department of Health for ordering its staff to get vaccinated in violation of the state’s “vaccine passport” ban.

In Osceola County, State Senator Victor Torres questioned Osceola County Sheriff Marcos Lopez about whether he would be requiring COVID vaccines for his deputies.

“I think it’s a choice of the people to get their vaccinations,” Lopez said. “I’m a Democrat. I’m vaccinated. I fought for other people to have choices.”

According to a recent survey, about 43 percent of Osceola County Sheriff’s Office employees say they’ve been vaccinated.

Meanwhile, The City of Kissimmee has implemented a $100 incentive to employees who self-report their vaccination status. So far, 90 Kissimmee Police Department Employees have shared that they are vaccinated.

According to a July survey of Orange County Sheriff’s Office employees, 55 percent of the approximately 1,800 who responded said they were fully vaccinated.

Another six percent said they had scheduled or at least planned to schedule a shot.

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Mina says he encourages them to continue to do so.

“Do it so your fellow deputies and officers can honor you at your retirement, instead of commemorating you at your funeral.”

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