Orange, Polk sheriffs call for law enforcement vaccination after deputies die from COVID-19

Deputy First Class Craig Seijos died from COVID-19 earlier this month

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Orange County Sheriff John Mina issued a frank message with his deputies Wednesday on social media in his continuing effort to urge his department to get vaccinated.

Mina posted a video message on Twitter asking OCSO employees to get vaccinated.

The video message comes three weeks after Orange County Deputy First Class Craig Seijos, 54, died from COVID-19. Law enforcement officers from surrounding Central Florida agencies have also lost deputies and police to the virus in recent weeks.

“Being a law enforcement officer is a dangerous job and every year brave men and women die in the line of duty protecting the communities they serve,” Mina said.

Mina said the number one cause of death for officers in the line of duty in the United States in 2020 was COVID-19.

“As law enforcement officers we must do everything we can to protect ourselves from COVID-19, get vaccinated. Do it for yourself, do it for your community, do it so your fellow deputies and officers can honor you at your retirement, instead of commemorating you at your funeral,” Mina said.

[RELATED: Orange County deputy, 54, dies following complications with COVID-19]

Anyone interested in getting a COVID-19 vaccine can find a site at this link.

Mina is also offering employees three additional days off if they can show him they are vaccinated.

As of Aug. 6, Mina said 55% of OCSO employees were vaccinated.

[RELATED: Orange County Sheriff offering 3 days off if workers are vaccinated]

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd is also pushing for everyone to get vaccinated.

PCSO deputy Christopher Broadhead,32, died earlier this week from COVID-19.

[RELATED: Outspoken Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd pushes COVID vaccine after deputy’s death]

“At such a young age, his death is shocking,” Judd said. “He’s healthy with no underlying issues, we thought he’d bounce right back. But he didn’t. It was a long arduous struggle.”

Broadhead worked at the Sherriff’s office for about 10 years, receiving the Medal of Valor and a Service Medal. The deputy leaving a young family behind.

“He won’t have the opportunity to see his one and two-year-olds’ next birthday. He won’t have the opportunity to spend the next Christmas with his stepchildren and his wonderful wife,” Judd said

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The vaccination status of Broadhead has not been released yet.

Judd said he received a vaccine the first day it was eligible for him and Mina posted a video of him getting the vaccine.

The Polk County sheriff said he has been in contact with people who have tested positive for the virus

“The other two [people] that I was exposed to didn’t have the vaccine. I thank the good lord, the scientists, and [the] doctors that created the vaccine. I didn’t get sick, and I had direct exposure. At the end of the day, if you need a sign, there it is. If you need a testimony, there it is. Vaccines work,” Judd said.

Judd said some first responders may be hesitant to get the shot, listening to misinformation about side effects, or turned off by how some people have politicized the pandemic.

“At the end of the day, how much more warning and notice do we need? I tell folks, shame on the politicians, listen to your doctor, get the vaccine,” Judd said.

While both the Orange County and Polk County sheriffs encourage the vaccine, they say they won’t impose a mandate on their colleagues to get it. They’re hoping their examples will motivate other first responders to step up and get the shot.


About the Authors:

Crystal Moyer is a multimedia journalist who joined the News 6 team in February 2020. Crystal comes to Central Florida from WKMG’s sister station, WJXT in Jacksonville, where she worked as a traffic anchor and MMJ.