ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Orange County Sheriff John Mina is discussing his latest video message on social media to urge his department to get vaccinated.
During an interview with News 6 on Thursday, Mina stressed the importance of getting the shot to save lives.
“What we want to do is try and implore our deputies and other law enforcement officers to get the vaccine,” Mina said. “And let them know it’s just as important as wearing your body armor and just as important as wearing a seatbelt.”
The comments come three weeks after Orange County Deputy First Class Craig Seijos, 54, died from COVID-19.
“Just recently it seems like we’ve had an increase in COVID-19 deaths among our law enforcement officers and it, of course, hit home here with us,” Mina said.
According to the sheriff, 55% of OCSO employees were vaccinated as of Aug. 6.
“In talking to the union and our deputies, the biggest hesitancy, according to them, was not having the full FDA approval and it just being so new,” Mina said. “We’re going to do another survey and especially now that the FDA has given the full approval for the Pfizer vaccine, we think that those numbers will start to increase.”
The sheriff’s office is offering three days of paid vacation for anyone who’s been vaccinated. Mina said he’s looking at other incentives but does not plan to require his staff to get the shot.
“I’ve told our deputies, ‘I don’t want to mandate vaccinations.’ I believe that’s a personal health choice,” he said. “The other thing I have to consider as sheriff is that if a number of employees feel so strongly about this, they will leave to go to another sheriff’s office.”
Mina said he would like to see 70% of his employees vaccinated and will be working with local doctors to dispel myths and offer education about the importance of immunizations.