FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - In order to protect employees from the coronavirus, Broward County is rolling out a new pandemic plan.

Broward County Mayor Steven Geller said he’s concerned about the county’s unvaccinated employees, and while they’re offering an incentive, they’re making it clear the vaccination is not a mandate for its employees, but they’re not ruling out that option down the road.

“Last month, Broward County led the nation, not the state, Broward County lead the nation in the number of hospitalizations,” Geller said.

It’s with that message that Broward County is offering a major incentive for its nearly 7,000 employees: Get a shot at protection against COVID-19, get $500.

“If you show us proof of vaccination within 60 days, you will receive a bonus,” Geller said.

The ultimatum, Geller said, is simple.

“If you fail to show us proof of vaccination within that 60 days, the first pay period after 60 days, you will start getting docked $20,” he said.

That’s right, $20 per pay period.

“We make it available for all, but mandatory for none,” said Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Earlier this week, DeSantis made a stop outside Gainesville to voice his opposition to any sort of vaccine mandate in local government.

“If a government agency in the state of Florida forces a vaccine as a condition of employment, that violates Florida law,” he said.

Broward has made it clear that the COVID-19 vaccine is not a mandate for employees.

“It’s a carrot and twig approach, and we believe that it is absolutely in compliance with the governor’s order and within the legislature’s statute,” Geller said.

The $500 incentive applies to seaport employees, airport employees, bus drivers and those in the parks and recreation sector.

It also includes unionized workers, but some are excluded.

“The county constitutional officers are the property appraiser, the clerk of courts and the sheriff,” Geller said, “they are separately elected, and we do not control what their benefits are and what their employees do.”

The $500 incentive for vaccination rolls out on Oct. 1, and it will run for 60 days. At the end of the year, the county will reevaluate, and if they find there are still a large number of employees who are unvaccinated, they will consider making vaccination a mandate.

Copyright 2021 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Join our Newsletter for the latest news right to your inbox