Fla. first responders protest vaccine mandate

Dozens of responders and supporters gathered to rally against Orange County's pending vaccine deadline

By Kerri Hatt

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Dozens of first responders and supporters gathered at Lake Eola on Saturday to protest Orange County’s vaccine mandate for county employees.

Firefighter Jorge Hernandez told WFTV the rally wasn’t about being against the vaccine, but to support the right to choose. “When this whole pandemic started and we were out there, we were never against the vaccine,” Hernandez said. “We actually encouraged people who had underlying issues to take it as their best choice.” He noted first responders are hoping for a compromise with the county, such as weekly COVID-19 testing.

The firefighters' union is bargaining with the county to attempt to repeal the mandate. Mayor Demings says the county is within its legal rights to require workers get immunized, FOX 35 reported. "While you have individual rights, sometimes your rights cannot trump the greater collective of our community,” he said.

Orange County is risking millions of dollars in fines by enforcing the mandate.

About 600 first responders have just two weeks left to show proof of a COVID-19 vaccine.

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