City Adopts COVID Vaccine Policy
Protects City Workers & Residents
by Anne Mooney / September 9, 2021
On Sept. 9, the Orlando Sentinel reported a story titled “Unvaccinated employees face firing.”
In fact, termination of employment would be the last resort, and would not take place without due process. The City’s COVID-19 vaccination and testing policy is clearly laid out in a document in the September 8 Commission Meeting Agenda Packet. Highlights of that policy are below, and are anything but draconian.
The City’s COVID-19 testing policy states, “All City employees are required no later than September 20, 2021 to either (a) establish that they have been fully vaccinated . . . or (b) produce weekly negative COVID-19 test results . . . . Vaccination and/or testing is required even if an employee previously tested positive for COVID-19. . . . To facilitate employees receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, the City will allow employees to attain the vaccine while on duty. . . .”
Testing Procedures for City Employees
City policy goes on to state: “Employees who do not provide documentation establishing that they are fully vaccinated shall be required to undergo diagnostic testing once weekly. . . .”
Testing will be scheduled by the City, paid for by the City at a City-approved location during the employee’s working hours. An employee who prefers to be tested off-hours at their own expense must use an FDA approved PCR or antigen test and provide the results to Human Resources.
Employees who test positive for COVID-19 will be required to quarantine in accordance with CDC guidelines.
Failure to comply
Effective September 27, employees who do not provide proof of full vaccination and who fail to provide a negative COVID-19 test weekly may be placed on unpaid leave until they provide proof of full vaccination and/or a negative test result. These employees may be subject to discipline up to and including discharge from employment. Employees seeking medical or religious accommodation should contact Human Resources. Falsification of immunization documentation, test results or accommodation request will be grounds for dismissal.
City falls short of 65 percent goal
On August 2, the City announced a voluntary employee COVID-19 vaccination incentive to encourage unvaccinated employees to become fully vaccinated by September 20. Education and incentives, however, failed to convince enough employees to become vaccinated. At the September 8 Commission meeting, City Manager Randy Knight reported 218 City employees had submitted proof of full vaccination – 35 employees short of the 316 employees it would take to reach the 65 percent threshold of 316 employees.
Acknowledging its responsibility to its employees to provide a work environment conducive to the safe delivery of City services, the City has implemented the policy outlined above.
What is ‘herd immunity’?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) website, herd immunity occurs when a given disease ceases to spread among a population. In terms of population percentage required, herd immunity is different for each disease. Herd immunity for measles is 95 percent, while for polio the threshold is 80 percent. No one yet knows what herd immunity is for COVID-19, only that we’re nowhere near it.
Asked for his opinion about the current vaccination policy, Commissioner Marty Sullivan had this to say. “From a personal standpoint, polio extremely affected our family when my sister got it in 1948. After that, there was no question about vaccines. When they became available, we just did it. No questions asked.
“The Salk vaccine eradicated polio in this country because, all at once, everyone got the vaccine. If we had all gotten vaccinated against COVID-19 early on, we could have avoided the Delta variant breakthrough.
Sullivan went on to explain, “The Salk vaccine was released in 1955. By 1957, after mass vaccinations, the number of cases recorded annually in the U.S. fell from 58,000 to 5,600 cases. By 1961, the U.S. recorded only 161 cases. We will be living with COVID-19 for as long as people refuse to get vaccinated. Not a good prospect for us.”
It may be a symptom of how newspapers have been gutted by layoffs in the newsroom that the Orlando Sentinel would write a headline that was at best misleading and at worst inaccurate with “Unvaccinated Employees Face Firing”. After all, a hedge fund (Alden Global Capital) with a reputation and track record at other newspapers of making deep cuts at the papers it owns also owns the Orlando Sentinel. It is regretable the employees did not make the cut on the bonus. I would have preferred that the vaccinations occurred with “carrots” versus “sticks” myself. Given the situation, I am glad the employees at least still have a choice of either vaccination or testing weekly. Sure it is not fun to be tested each week (having the dreaded nose plunge once was enough for me) which might drive some to accept the vaccination. At least so far the city does not have to charge $200 per month more to those employees who are unvaccinated for their medical insurance package like Delta airlines is doing. I can imagine that additional cost will motivate many of Delta’s employees to take the jab. I support what the Mayor and Commissioners are doing in this matter.
As someone who speaks with and advises employers every day, this is no longer a controversial issue. It was almost a month ago that Disney’s union agreed to mandatory vaccinations with no alternative to provide negative tests instead. Employees with Covid-19 are disruptive to the regular operations of businesses especially those businesses which are having difficulty filling vacant positions.
I completely agree!! Get vaccinated!! Political will and leadership, at all levels, all party affiliations, etc., have been lacking. We’ve had effective vaccines for well over one year….yet, we find ourselves with increasing dangers to those already vaccinated and/or vulnerable to the CoVid19. Numerous medical experts are on record as stating that we are experiencing an unnecessary continuation of this pandemic due to a minority choosing not to receive a vaccination for this terrible disease. Like it or not, the greater societal good is at stake here, in my opinion.
Scene: Two City employees chatting by the water cooler reading The Voice.
Woman: “Says here in The Voice that Commissioner Sullivan’s family is a believer in vaccines, so that’s why we have to get the Covid vaccine.”
Man: “Let’s hope Commissioner Sullivan’s family isn’t a believer in alligator wrestling.”
What a disgustingly ignorant and dismissive comment. Commissioner Sullivan speaks from a position of experience on the tragic effect of not being vaccinated. We are so lucky in our country to have abundant vaccines for diseases that can wipe out humanity. And covid will be one of them if we don’t get it under control.
If anything, I think the city’s response is too lax and I resent spending our city taxpayer money to repeatedly test anti-vaccination employees and provide them with time off to do so.
I strongly disagree with the city paying for testing of unvaccinated staff, in addition to the tests taking place during work hours. This burden should be on the individuals that choose not to vaccinate, and not on the tax payers of Winter Park. The vaccine is FDA approved, free, and is proven effective.
Businesses are crazy. Wonder why nobody wants to work? Forcing an experimental spike protein bio weapon one size fits all on everyone. People are dying from the shot and still getting COVID, which has 1% of death. We don’t live in a democracy anymore.
Did we live in a democracy when we had to get vaccinated for small pox mumps, measles, polio and many other diseases? All mandated by the government. I believe no one challenged the idea that it was not a democracy. Do you really know someone who died from the shot? I do know several WP residents who have died from COVID.
The time has long passed for avoiding vaccination. Holdouts are affecting the rest of us and especially children under 12. Good for the City for passing the new policy.
The reality is that there are a few ways to reach herd immunity. One is vaccinations. This way leads to the least amount of deaths, lower severity of any illnesses, and less strain on the health care system. The other way is through infections without vaccinations (although a large proportion of vaccinated individuals helps to reduce these problems). This way leads to more deaths, more severe illnesses, risk of shutdowns, and breaking our health care system. Those who are not vaccinated and end up in hospitals make it more difficult for other people with other medical conditions to get the help they need thus leading to even more deaths. And please, amateur epidemiologists, stay in your lane, whatever that might be.