Vaccine mandate protesters prepare for recall effort against Orange County mayor

ORLANDO, Fla. — The deadline is approaching for Orange County employees to get vaccinated or risk termination.

Firefighters and other employees gathered Saturday in downtown Orlando to protest the mandate.

Another group gathered at Lake Eola on Sunday and threatened a recall effort against the Orange County mayor.

READ: Firefighters protest against Orange County vaccine mandate

The protestors said they are getting ready to gather signatures and have already gained support online.

The group gathered near the bandshell at Lake Eola walked around with signs and messages against vaccine mandates, and in support of recalling Mayor Jerry Demings.

The COVID-19 vaccine mandate has become a highly-politicized issue.

As the COVID-19 delta variant was surging, the mayor announced the vaccine would be required for employees by the end of September.

READ: Orange County government to stop asking job applicants if they have criminal convictions

Those who don’t get the vaccine could be terminated.

Gov. DeSantis has also threated to fine local government for requiring vaccines with up to $5,000 for each incident.

Around 80% of Orange County workers have received at least one shot, but hundreds of workers remain unvaccinated.

Protestors said they don’t think any government should be able to tell people to put something in their body.

“I believe it’s unsafe personally, but I also believe that people should have a choice,” said protester Willie Montague. “That’s what we’re out here about. We’re not anti-vaxxers or anti-masker. We’re simply saying that individuals who, especially the employees, and people that work for the county for almost 18 to 20 years, should have a choice.”

WATCH: Orange County school buses overcrowded due to driver shortage, leaving students to sit on the floor

Montague is the man behind the recall effort and said he believes it’s more about political ambition than public safety for Demings.

Montegue has his own political ambitions. He’s running for Congress in District 10, which happens to be Val Demings’ seat.

Legal advisors for the county said they believe the county is on solid ground with the vaccine mandate in order to protect the community.

See more in the video above.

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Jeff Deal

Jeff Deal, WFTV.com

I joined the Eyewitness News team as a reporter in 2006.