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Tampa To Require COVID Vaccinations For City Employees

 Tampa Mayor Jane Castor announced COVID-19 vaccinations will be required for all city employees.
City of Tampa
Tampa Mayor Jane Castor announced COVID-19 vaccinations will be required for all city employees.

Tampa is the first city in the greater Tampa Bay region to require vaccinations for its employees.

In a news conference Wednesday, Mayor Jane Castor said the city is joining other municipalities across the country in requiring vaccinations to help stem the rising number of coronavirus cases.

"This COVID-19 surge is a crisis threatening our community, and the most effective way to halt the spread is with vaccinations,” Castor said in a news release. “We need to take this step to protect one another and our community, and I am so grateful to the dedicated city of Tampa employees who have worked so hard during this difficult time."

According to the release, all city employees – including union members – must be vaccinated by Sept. 30 or show proof of having COVID-19 antibodies.

According to the Tampa Bay Times, some agencies, including the Tampa Police and Tampa Fire Rescue are not tracking vaccinations among employees.

Those who do not want to be vaccinated must wear an N95 face mask and submit to weekly rapid response COVID tests, and show their results, Castor said.

"This is all part of doing what's right for the residents of Tampa and 4,700 dedicated men and women who work for the residents of Tampa," Castor said.

Dr. Jason Wilson, an emergency medicine physician at Tampa General Hospital, told reporters there has been a flood of unvaccinated COVID patients coming into TGH.

"Really important data coming out this week from Los Angeles, from the CDC, is showing at least a fivefold increase in protection against even getting the Delta variant or any variant of COVID we know of so far if you're vaccinated compared to not vaccinated,” Wilson said.

Wilson said the risk of being put on a ventilator or being sent to the intensive care unit with COVID is about 25 times higher for the unvaccinated.

Castor said additional details and options for employees will be finalized at a future date.

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Carl Lisciandrello is digital news editor of WUSF Public Media.
Susan Giles Wantuck is our midday news host, and a producer and reporter for WUSF Public Media who focuses her storytelling on arts, culture and history.