Palm Beach County official orders workers to vaccinate or risk firing

The Palm Beach County tax collector has ordered her employees to get the coronavirus vaccine or risk being fired.

“We have communicated to our entire staff that our expectation is that all employees will receive one of the FDA authorized vaccines by June 15, 2021,” Tax Collector Anne Gannon said in a statement Wednesday.

She said her employees have contact with the public and two workers tested positive last week. Many others tested positive earlier and one died.

The collector’s office is semi-autonomous and its revenue comes from a percentage of the taxes it collects for other agencies and from fees it charges for services such as issuing vehicle registrations.

“For every person who gets COVID, it costs our business money and it gives us an inability to meet our customer needs,” said Gannon, who was first elected in 2006. “I have a responsibility to protect my employees and the public.”

Gannon doesn’t know the exact number, but said most of her employees have received at least one dose of the vaccine. Some, however, have been hesitant, pointing to false claims that the vaccine can cause infertility, she said.

Employees will be allowed to cite religious or medical reasons if they refuse, Gannon said. “In addition, we are making arrangements with the Health Care District to bring their mobile vaccination vans to our various locations to help make the vaccine process convenient,” she said Wednesday.

If they have neither and refuse to get vaccinated, they cannot return to work and must use up their vacation and other time-off allotment. Once that is used up, they will be fired if they don’t return within a short period, she said.

She said she is working with the county health department to set up vaccinations at her office’s worksites to make it easier for employees to get their shots.

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