Orange County to discipline unvaccinated employees over COVID-19 vaccine mandate

ORLANDO, Fla. — All Orange County employees must have at least their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by the end of Thursday or they will be disciplined.

Gov. Ron DeSantis’s office said it will be watching the controversial vaccine mandate closely.

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On this first dose deadline, 79% of employees are vaccinated, 6% have been given medical or religious exemptions and 15% remain unvaccinated.

The county said 84% of its non-union employees make up part of the vaccinated staff and 50% of its union employees.

“I’m pleased that we were able to get the rate of vaccinations up within our county employees to well above what it is in the community at large,” said Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings.

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Demings said that wouldn’t have happened without the mandate.

He moved forward with it while the governor threatened to fine Orange County $5,000 per employee who didn’t want to get the shot.

Demings sent a letter to DeSantis and said, “Orange County considers the threat of fines by the governor to be an attempted unauthorized gubernatorial usurpation of epic proportion.”

Demings added that the county would, “vigorously defend itself against any fines improperly imposed by the state.”

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A spokesperson for the governor’s office responded to Demings’ letter and said: “Governor DeSantis has made clear that local governments should not punish or otherwise discriminate against their employees who decline to disclose personal medical information about their vaccination status.”

The governor’s office pointed out that Demings said he will not be terminating any employee over their vaccine status and added, “we will hold Mayor Demings to that commitment.”

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