Physicians society show support for Orange County health director following suspension

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — An organization of Central Florida physicians is asking for public officials and community members to continue encouraging COVID-19 vaccinations, after Orange County’s health director was suspended by the state earlier this month for encouraging his department’s staff members to get the shot.

The Physicians Society of Central Florida released a statement on Monday stating the COVID-19 vaccine remains the best defense for preventing severe illness and death from the virus.

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The organization said it is urging “reflection and deliberation” on “the potential perils of limiting the communication of scientifically supported medical advice by physicians.”

The Florida Department of Health put Orange County Health Director Dr. Raul Pino on paid administrative leave earlier this month after he sent an email to Orange County Department of Health staff members about vaccination rates within the department.

READ: Orange County health director Dr. Raul Pino placed on administrative leave

“I am sorry but in the absence of reasonable and real reasons it is irresponsible not to be vaccinated,” Pino wrote. “We have been at this for two years, we were the first to give vaccines to the masses, we have done more than 300,000 and we are not even at 50%, pathetic.”

The Physicians Society of Central Florida said in their statement that doctors should be able to offer “sound medical advice based on current scientific literature without fear of repercussions.”

READ: Orange County mayor issues statement in support of suspended health director

“While we are certain the pandemic will end and our community will manage the lingering impacts of a COVID-19 pandemic, future generations will be harmed greatly if physicians do not have the freedom to educate and counsel their patients and the public on the most effective, evidence-based ways to prevent disease and promote health,” the society’s statement read.

The society, which comprises physicians in Orange, Osceola, and Seminole counties, said it is encouraging the state to act quickly to resolve the situation, “so the Health Department can continue their work in preparing and caring for our community.”

READ: Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings tests positive for COVID-19

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Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson, WFTV.com

Sarah Wilson joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2018 as a digital producer after working as an award-winning newspaper reporter for nearly a decade in various communities across Central Florida.