Proposed Florida bill would eliminate state’s power to mandate vaccines

Coronavirus

FILE – In this Wednesday, June 24, 2020 file photo, a volunteer receives an injection at the Chris Hani Baragwanath hospital in Soweto, Johannesburg, as part of Africa’s first participation in a COVID-19 vaccine trial developed at the University of Oxford in Britain in conjunction with the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca. On Friday, Oct. 23, 2020, AstraZeneca Inc. announced that the Food and Drug Administration is letting it resume testing of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate in the U.S. (Siphiwe Sibeko/Pool via AP)

TAMPA (WFLA) – At least one Florida lawmaker wants to eliminate the state’s power to mandate vaccines during a public health emergency.

Republican State Rep. Anthony Sabatini from Howey-in-the-Hills filed the legislation (HB 6003) on Monday, the first day of bill filing for the 2021 legislative session. The session is scheduled for March 2.

Sabatini filed several lawsuits over the summer against Florida municipalities over local mask mandates.

His newly-proposed bill would remove “the authority of the State Health Officer to order vaccinations upon declaration of a public health emergency,” amending Florida Statute 381.00315. If the bill passes and is signed into law by Gov. DeSantis, it would not take effect till July 1.

Gov. DeSantis announced in a press conference on Monday that he went to Washington D.C. a week before Thanksgiving to meet with members of Operation Warp Speed and the Centers for Disease Control to discuss the coronavirus vaccine.

“We’re not gonna have unlimited [vaccines] in the first month,” DeSantis said. “I think we pretty much will have one for every American in the first few months.”

DeSantis said Florida’s first share of whichever vaccine gets approved would be at least a million, maybe as much as two million.

As of Monday evening, Florida has recorded more than 999,000 coronavirus cases since the beginning of the pandemic.

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