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Listen in: One Orlando pediatrician says Dr. Pino's forced leave comes at a crucial time for public health in Orange County

Photo: Pixabay
Photo: Pixabay

Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings says he’s hopeful that Medical Director Dr. Raul Pino will soon return to work on behalf of the residents of Orange County. 

Pino was  placed on administrative leave earlier this week after encouraging members of his department to take the COVID-19 vaccine. 

WMFE talks with Orlando pediatrician Dr. Candice Jones about the message being sent to medical professionals with Pino’s suspension. Jones echoes the sentiment expressed by Mayor Demings. 

Read the full interview below. 

Dr. Jones: I'm very concerned because as I said, I don't know him personally. But I did listen to the data that he gave to all of us, and listened to his advice.

And other, of course, other health officials and the CDC and other trusted officials that I listened to as a pediatrician, but he is one trusted messenger.

And it does scare me that if he can be put on leave, which, if this can happen to him for encouraging vaccinations, then who will replace him because it seems that Florida's administration is putting people in places that just agree with their administration.

And that worries me because we see, if they're not encouraging vaccinations, they're kind of skirting over that they're focusing more on therapeutics, they're not encouraging masking, it's a choice. And so there's so many things that's undermining public health evidence, science-based information and recommendations. And it's very worrisome.

And it creates confusion and undermines our ability to fight this pandemic. And so that definitely worries me that he may not be there and who is going to replace him? And going forward, the danger that that could pose to our community, and what they're going to be hearing now and how they're going to be advised.

Danielle: You know, as a doctor, you took a Hippocratic oath to protect your patients. Do you feel like talking about vaccines is is part of that? Will you ever not talk about vaccines in your own private practice?

Dr. Jones: I will not. I'm a pediatrician. And overwhelmingly, most pediatricians believe that vaccines are safe, effective, and they save lives.

And that is a huge part of what we do as pediatricians. And so I can't see that anything that this administration can put in place that that would try to stall encouragement of vaccinations to work? And quite frankly, it's unacceptable.

Danielle: You know, as a pediatrician who works with very young patients, what would be the message right now that you would want parents and kids to hear? You know, because a lot of them woke up to this news today. And so what would you want them to hear about vaccines today?

Dr. Jones: Vaccines as a whole has saved lives in this country and around the world. They are overwhelmingly safe, and they are effective in doing the job that they're set to do and that is to control the spread of infectious diseases.

And so I talk to my families that I serve about that all the time. Most of our patients do get vaccinated. I vaccinate my children and I'm vaccinated with the COVID vaccine and all other recommended vaccines.

And so I wouldn't recommend anything to my patients and families that I wouldn't do myself and so if anyone has any questions or concerns or hesitancy please talk to your trusted pediatrician. You can even reach out to me.

Danielle Prieur is WMFE's education reporter.
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