Most Volusia hospitals won’t mandate COVID-19 vaccine for staff

60 staff members at Halifax Health are quarantining after testing positive for COVID-19

VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. – Despite the record-breaking number of hospitalizations happening in Central Florida right now, officials with most of the local hospital systems said they are not mandating staff to get vaccinated at this point.

[RELATED: Florida vaccine guide: Here’s how to find an appointment]

On Tuesday, several national hospital systems including the Mayo Clinic, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and Johns Hopkins announced they would make vaccinations mandatory for staff.

Halifax Health reported on Wednesday that about 60 staff members were currently quarantining after testing positive for COVID-19. A spokesperson said about 53 percent of its staff has been vaccinated and leaders with the healthcare system do not plan on making it mandatory.

“It’s a difficult proposition to do something that potentially antagonizes staff in the middle of a surge when you really need your staff members to be all for one and one for all,” Justin Senior said.

Senior is the CEO of the Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida. The organization advocates for 14 hospital systems across the state, including Halifax Health.

“My sense of it is that physicians are much more willing to take the vaccine than nurses and probably more willing to take the vaccine than the rest of the front-line staff,” he said.

Senior said most hospitals are tight on staff right now and mandating the vaccine could chase staff away at a critical time.

“Your biggest concern in a surge like this is that you would have staff members that actually catch COVID and then get knocked offline,” he said.

Currently, the COVID-19 vaccinations are not fully FDA approved. They’re only approved for emergency clearance.

Some local hospital systems, including Flagler Health+, said they would revisit the debate of making them mandatory once they are FDA approved.

“I do think that hospitals around the country and hospitals in the state of Florida are going to start looking more and more closely at requiring these vaccines in the coming weeks and months,” Senior said.

About the Author:

Molly joined News 6 at the start of 2021, returning home to Central Florida.