A Florida health official has been placed on administrative leave while state officials determine whether or not he urged his employees to get vaccinated.

Raul Pino, director of the Florida department of health in Orange County, emailed staff information about Covid-19 vaccination rates on January 4.

“I have a hard time understanding how we can be in public health and not practice it,” he wrote.

He went on to list statistics of the department’s vaccination statuses.


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“I am sorry but in the absence of reasonable and real reasons it is irresponsible not to be vaccinated,” Pino added. “We have been at this for two years, we were the first to give vaccines to the masses, we have done more than 300,000 and we are not even at 50% … pathetic.”

An Orlando news station, WFTV-TV, reported that an employee’s complaint about the email led to him being placed on leave.

Last year, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) passed a law that stopped government agencies from mandating the vaccine, unless they allowed medical and religious exemptions. They were required to allow workers to choose to wear masks or not get the vaccine if they had been previously infected and had antibodies.

The department of health hasn’t given a reason for Pino’s administrative leave designation.

“The employee in question has been placed on administrative leave, and the Florida department of health is conducting an inquiry to determine if any laws were broken in this case … The department is committed to upholding all laws, including the ban on vaccine mandates for government employees, and will take appropriate action once additional information is known.”

Pino has held his position as the director of the Florida department of health in Orange County since May 2019.

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