Leon County employees now need to be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus as cases of the highly communicable Delta variant are rampant across Florida.
In an interview, County Administrator Vince Long said he believed Leon County was the first in the country to require vaccinations from all employees.
A memo Wednesday from Long indicated that all new and current employees have until October 1 to get vaccinated and provide evidence to the county’s internal human resources department.
Anyone who does not do this threatens to be dismissed, unless accommodation has been granted.
Covid in Leon County:
“This is very simple and very serious,” Long wrote. “As an employer, we have an obligation to provide a safe work environment for our employees, and unvaccinated employees pose a significant risk for the virus to spread.”
There are about 1,000 county employees in all, but the order does not apply to the employees of constitutional officials such as the Leon County Sherriff’s Office and the Supervisor of Elections.
The Democrat has reached out to the city of Tallahassee to ask if it will follow suit.
Long said vaccination, as a key government official, helps maintain preparedness against outbreaks that “could have been avoided”.
He said only 50% of the county’s total workforce is vaccinated, which is cause for concern given the steep rise in infections and groundbreaking cases of fully vaccinated people.
Long: The time for “donuts and gift cards” as vaccination incentives is behind us
He said District Attorney Chasity O’Steen had reviewed the measure in accordance with Equal Opportunities Commission guidelines and that the district had the legal right to require vaccinations.
“The time for donuts and gift cards to incentivize vaccines is behind us,” Long said. “We really have a very serious obligation to our community to make sure we, as frontline workers, already have people ready to respond.”
Staff must have two weeks after their last vaccination, whether receiving a dose of 2 or one dose, before they are considered fully vaccinated.
The accommodations will follow existing guidelines for ADA-covered disabilities, medically-confirmed diagnosed illnesses, or “a sincere religious belief”.
Accommodation submission paperwork will be available on Monday.
Contact Karl Etters at [email protected] or @KarlEtters on Twitter.
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The full letter from Leon County Manager Vince Long
With vaccinations stagnating today and the Delta variant causing a resurgence of the COVID-19 virus with the state of Florida at its epicenter, vaccination against COVID-19 is now becoming a condition of employment with the Leon County Government for new and existing supervised employees of the District Office and the District Office.
As you all know, Leon County’s employees have been at the forefront of fighting the COVID-19 pandemic for over a year and a half. It was both a humbling time and a very proud time to be a county employee. As an organization, we’ve faced seemingly endless challenges, and as employees we’ve adapted to changing work conditions that I know none of us have ever thought of. During the darkest days of the pandemic, despite extraordinary efforts, we learned firsthand how limited we were as individuals and as a community to protect those most at risk from the virus. We also learned firsthand the enormous resources that would be required to restore livelihoods disrupted by the virus. And, of course, our efforts to promote vaccines, which have been shown to be highly effective at protecting against the virus, have been exhaustive.
It is very simple and very serious. As an employer, we have a duty to provide a safe work environment for our employees, and unvaccinated workers pose a significant risk for the virus to spread. As a key government agency, we have a duty to ensure our commitment to our community and virus outbreaks among our workforce that might can be avoided pose a very real threat to our operational readiness.
All employees have until October 1, 2021 to obtain a full vaccination and by that date to submit proof of vaccination to Leon County’s Human Resources Department. Evidence of vaccinations will no longer be accepted for existing employees after October 1, 2021. Employees who do not get vaccinated (except in the case of accommodation) will be dismissed. All new employees must be fully vaccinated before starting work. For workers receiving the 2-dose vaccine, “fully vaccinated” means two weeks after receiving the second dose. For employees receiving the 1-dose vaccine, “fully vaccinated” means two weeks after receiving the vaccine.
Employees can immediately begin posting or in person to Candice Wilson, Human Resources Director, 315 S. Calhoun Street, # 210, Tallahassee, Fla. 32301, in a sealed envelope labeled “CONFIDENTIAL”. These vaccine reviews are medical information and are kept confidential.
Reasonable accommodation is available to employees who cannot be vaccinated because of an ADA-covered disability, a medically-confirmed diagnosed illness that prevents an employee from receiving a vaccination, or a “righteous religious belief”. Applications for such accommodation will be assessed on a case-by-case basis and, where appropriate, granted in accordance with the law and EEOC guidelines. Accommodation request forms will be available on Monday, August 2, 2021 on the HR section of the county’s intranet site.
To allow time to vaccinate employees who have been denied housing applications, the housing application form must be completed and sent to Leon County Human Resources by August 16, 2021. The information on an accommodation application form, medical information, is kept confidential. Starting Monday, August 2, 2021, a sealed envelope labeled “CONFIDENTIAL” will be sent to Candice Wilson, Human Resources Director, Candice Wilson, Human Resources Director, #, Tallahassee, Florida 32301, for lodging inquiries starting Monday, August 2, 2021. begin intra-office mail or hand delivery.
Employees who are granted an adjustment to this employment condition must wear a mask at all times while working. In addition, the county can require unvaccinated employees to submit a negative COVID test on a weekly basis.
If necessary, all employees can contact Candice Wilson, Director of Human Resources for more information. I appreciate all of your efforts, and together we will do all we can to provide safe jobs for Leon County’s employees, keep us operational, serve our community, and continue to protect our most vulnerable citizens.
Thank you and stay safe