WASHINGTON — Florida Governor Ron DeSantis recently signed a bill banning businesses, schools, and government entities across the state from requiring proof of vaccination, a move that threatens to undermine the vaccination effort even as demand continues to drop. Low vaccine uptake threatens to prolong the pandemic, which is why many states are introducing new incentives for getting the shots. In contrast, Republicans in Florida and across the country are bowing to extremist anti-vaxxers with new laws that could undermine the effort to protect every American from the pandemic and our economic recovery.
“Widespread vaccination is the best way to get people back to work, businesses operating at full capacity and to truly rebound our economy,” said Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee President Jessica Post. “Republicans across the country are doing everything they can to undermine the vaccination effort, instead of working to combat hesitancy and encourage everyone to protect themselves. Most troubling, GOP lawmakers are imposing a one-size-fits-all approach and preventing local communities and businesses from setting policies to protect themselves. This new wave of legislation is a massive government overreach and could undo all of our hard-won progress.”
Vaccines are already required by law to attend school in all fifty states; Republicans are vastly overreacting to what is normally a routine requirement. The coronavirus vaccines authorized in the United States have been demonstrated to be overwhelmingly safe and effective and will likely receive full FDA approval in the near future.
Apart from Florida, anti-vaccine laws are moving through many GOP-controlled legislatures:
A Senate amendment in Arizona would prevent private businesses from requiring vaccinations. The amendment’s sponsor once compared efforts to vaccinate school children to communism, and the bill sponsor acknowledged that businesses would likely oppose the measure. A Democratic lawmaker noted that many of the proposal’s supporters were okay with businesses discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation.
Kansas lawmakers proposed a package that would ban businesses from requiring employees to receive vaccinations. The bill would also prevent public health officials from requiring vaccines at schools, leaving it up to the legislature to impose such a requirement.
The Montana legislature considered several bills that would prevent businesses from requiring proof of vaccination, and the governor issued an executive order to the same effect.
Wisconsin Republicans spearheaded an effort to stop businesses from requiring vaccinations, and the legislation would appear to cover schools and the University of Wisconsin system, as well as state-run nursing homes.