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DOH investigating the Orange County Health Director’s use of staff vaccine data

Ron DeSantis, Jerry Demings, George Ralls, John Henry, Mary Chau, Nadine Tarpley, Mike Van den Abbeel
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, second from left, speaks during a discussion about opening businesses such as barber shops and nail and hair salons with, from left, with Dr. Raul Pino, Director of Florida Department of Health in Orange County, Jerry Demings, Orange County Mayor, center, Dr. George Ralls, Medical Chief Quality Officer at Orlando Health, John Henry, Owner of J Henry’s Barber Shop Mary Chau, Founder and CEO C. Spa & Nail Spa, Nadine Tarpley, Owner Oh Sooo Jazzy Salon and Mike Van den Abbeel, Owner Mosaic Hair Studio listen during at a news conference Saturday, May 2, 2020, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Orange County Health Director Dr. Raul Pino has been placed on administrative leave after he sent an email on Jan. 4 to staff about employee COVID-19 vaccination rates. There is some question as to how Pino gained access to employee health information to determine who is or is not vaccinated.

He wrote that he had an analyst run vaccination data for employees, and that out of the 568 active staff at the department, only 77 had received a COVID-19 booster, 219 had two doses of the vaccine and 34 had only one dose. Medical information, by HIPAA law, is confidential. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) is a federal law that required the creation of national standards to protect sensitive patient health information from being disclosed without the patient’s consent or knowledge.

“I am sorry but in the absence of reasonable and real reasons it is irresponsible not to be vaccinated,” Pino wrote. “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.”

The Florida Department of Health released the following statement regarding Pino’s being placed on leave:

“As the decision to get vaccinated is a personal medical choice that should be made free from coercion and mandates from employers, 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.”