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All City of Tampa employees will be required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by September 30th.
Tampa Mayor Jane Castor announced the new policy Wednesday morning, alongside a doctor from Tampa General Hospital and the leaders of three unions that represent city employees.
“Almost all individuals who have died from COVID-19 are those that are unvaccinated,” Castor said. “So, my job is to ensure the health and well-being of our team here in the city, and that’s why we’re making that decision. And we’re implementing the COVID-19 vaccine for all of our employees so that we can keep them safe.”
“And talking about the personal freedoms, as well, individuals saying that it’s their decision if they get vaccinated. How about the freedom of their co-workers, the people that are sitting next to them who have been vaccinated, and may have comorbidities? And COVID-19 can be a life-threatening issue for them. They have rights as well. So, I think that this decision may not be the most popular. But it is the right thing to do for all of our employees.”
Mayor Castor said the coronavirus positivity rate in Tampa is 21%, so for the health of the team, she is requiring workers to get vaccinated. It applies to 4700 full-time City of Tampa employees.
“This delta variant has hit our city very hard. We are doing testing. We set up 2 testing sites, one at Al Lopez the other one at Al Barnes Park. And so far, the response has been a 21% positivity rate in the city of Tampa. As you all know, Florida is leading the nation with the COVID outbreaks, as well.”
“As Dr. [Jason] Wilson will tell you, and all of the other physicians and medical professionals that I talk with on a regular basis, say that if you have not been vaccinated, you have somewhere in the range of a 100% chance of contracting the COVID virus. So that’s pretty high odds.”
Mayor Jane Castor says she doesn’t know the exact number of city employees who are currently vaccinated, but she estimates that it’s only 40%.
In a follow-up message after a WMNF inquiry, Dr. Wilson wrote, “At this point, it seems highly probable that unvaccinated people will likely be infected at some point given the increasing transmissibility of novel variants. Even those that are vaccinated have seen some infections (far fewer though) – so of course, people will ask, then why get vaccinated? There is still significantly less chance of infection with vaccination (5-8x protection) and a much, much lower chance of becoming severely ill with Covid (25x less chance of requiring hospitalization and even lower chance of critical illness or death). Third doses and boosters may even decrease infection risk further (or perhaps eliminate eventually).”