Florida State Lawmaker Introducing Bill to Bar State from Forcing Vaccines During State of Emergency

A pharmacist gives Jennifer Haller, left, the first shot in the first-stage safety study clinical trial of a potential vaccine for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, Monday, March 16, 2020, at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

Florida state Rep. Anthony Sabatini (R) announced on Monday that he is introducing a measure that would prevent the state from forcing vaccines on citizens during a state of emergency, emphasizing that it should be an individual’s choice.

“I will be filing a Bill next week to eliminate the State’s power to mandate and force vaccines upon citizens during a state of emergency,” he announced on Monday. “Government should not be able to forcibly vaccinate—it should be an individual choice”:

Earlier this year, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) issued an order allowing Surgeon General Scott Rivkees to declare a public health emergency. The order directed Rivkees “to take any action to protect the public health.”

According to the Tallahassee Democrat, “Under that order, and under state law cited in the order, Rivkees can order anyone who is deemed to be a ‘public health risk’ to be vaccinated”:

The authorizing law gives the state health officer the power to take whatever actions she or he deems necessary, including “ordering an individual to be examined, tested, vaccinated, treated, or quarantined for communicable diseases that … present a severe danger to public health.”

Anyone who is unwilling to be vaccinated may be subject to quarantine, the law says. And if there is no practical way to quarantine that person, the State Health Officer “may use any means necessary to vaccinate or treat the individual.” That includes calling on law enforcement to help him carry out those duties.

However, DeSantis said last week that the state will not require Floridians to take the vaccination against their will.

“Our goal is to make all safe and effective COIVD vaccines available to Floridians who want them, but the state will not mandate that Floridians take these vaccines,” DeSantis said in a video update. “That’s going to be the choice of each and every Floridian”:

DeSantis has continued to stand his ground as pressure builds for additional coronavirus restrictions in the Sunshine State, including a statewide mask mandate begged for by various mayors.

“Since the governor opened up the economy totally in late September and simultaneously prevented local governments from enforcing individual mask mandates, we have seen an enormous surge,” Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber (D) claimed.

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman (D) added that the state should have a mask mandate for “consistency,” while allowing “individual counties and cities to determine what other restrictions make sense.”

As governors across the country begin to retighten restrictions, DeSantis’s office vowed last week that the governor will not impose lockdowns across the state.

“The Governor will not lock down and hurt families who can’t afford to shelter in place for six weeks. Especially not for a virus that has a 99.8% survival rate,” a spokesperson for the governor said, adding that their focus of concern remains on Assisted Living Facilities.

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