ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Orange County Sheriff John Mina announced deputies and employees at the sheriff’s office will be able to get three additional days off if they can show they’re vaccinated.
“Prior to that, we offered one day off, and we saw an increase and with then with the uptick in cases especially the Delta variant, we decided we would give the three-day pass,” Mina said.
The department is offering a new incentive to get more of the deputies vaccinated. Mina said the results of the most recent survey of the agency show about 55% of its employees have received the shot but admits some of his deputies are still hesitant.
“A lot of the deputies do have concerns and it relates to full FDA approval for some of the vaccines. We’re encouraging them to get the vaccines,” Mina said.
Right now, no vaccine has full FDA approval, only an emergency use authorization.
Thursday, the sheriff’s office announced the death of 54-year-old Deputy First Class Craig Seijos due to COVID-19 complications. Seijos served with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office for nearly 30 years. The sheriff’s office has not said if Seijos was vaccinated.
“He was such a good man, and everyone enjoyed working with him, just like any death in the family, we’re processing that and grieving and doing everything we can to help his wife,” Mina said.
Mina said he will continue to encourage his deputies to get vaccinated but can’t afford to make it mandatory.
“I’m not like other public entities and I cannot afford to lose 25 or 30 deputies who can go to another sheriff’s office in Florida, that does not have a mandate, and still be in the same retirement system,” Mina said.
News 6 checked in with other county sheriff’s offices and heard back from Seminole, Volusia, Osceola and Marion. Those agencies are not planning on incentivizing the vaccines.
The Orlando Police Department is exploring options.
“We’re not ruling anything out in the future that will provide an incentive for them,” Chief Orlando Rolon said.
Mina said he and all of the other senior staff at the sheriff’s office are vaccinated and they also schedule zoom Q&As between local doctors and employees to help those who are hesitant, get their questions answered.