TAMPA, Fla (WFLA) — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis says he is opposed to the idea of a vaccine mandate for police and first responders despite a wave of law enforcement officers dying of COVID-19.
According to reports, at least 29 Florida law enforcement officers have died from COVID-19. At least five died over the course of one week in South Florida. Three officers in Tampa Bay, St. Petersburg police officer Michael Weiskopf, 52, Manatee Corrections Department worker Douglas Clark, 67, and Polk County sheriff’s deputy Christopher Broadhead, 32 died of the virus within days of each other last month.
Vaccines were offered to mourners at both Broadhead’s and Weiskopf’s funerals.
“This virus is real and it’s deadly and Christopher is the poster child for how deadly it is. He was only 32,” Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said.
In an op-ed following Broadhead’s death, Judd urged those who are eligible to get the vaccine.
“The moment I was eligible, I got the Moderna vaccine,” Judd wrote.
But the sheriff said he wouldn’t go as far as mandating vaccines.
“I’m a real staunch supporter of people’s individual rights. I wish they would take the vaccine. I’m not going to mandate it. I think that’s government overreach,” he said.
While discussing monoclonal antibody treatments in West Palm Beach, DeSantis said he was opposed to the idea of a vaccine mandate for police officers and first responders.
“I think people need to make the decisions about what they want to do,” DeSantis told a reporter. “Part of the problem with these vaccines mandates is they’re very unscientific. I’ve not seen any mandate that actually recognizes prior infection and immunity that you get through prior infections, so that’s not following science if you’re not recognizing that.”
“My view would be it’s available for all, forced on nobody,” DeSantis added.
You can watch the governor’s comments above and the full press conference below.