CLEARWATER, Fla. — Today, Governor Ron DeSantis was joined by Attorney General Ashley Moody, Florida’s Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo, and Floridians who have lost their jobs or are having their employment threatened due to vaccine mandates to call a Special Session of the Florida Legislature to provide protections for employees. 
“Your right to earn a living should not be contingent upon COVID shots,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “When the vaccines first came out, we worked very hard to provide it, particularly to our elderly, but we said from day one: we will make it available for all, but we will mandate it on none because ultimately we want individuals to make the determinations about what is right for them. I want a state in which people are able to maintain their livelihoods, earn a living, and provide for their families. And if the federal government or big corporations are hurting people, then we have a responsibility to step up and lead.”
“Mandates have no place in the free state of Florida,” said Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nuñez. “I am proud to stand with Governor DeSantis to provide protections for employees facing discrimination over vaccine status. Our administration will continue to fight for freedom.”
“I am proud to stand with Governor Ron DeSantis to push back against unlawful vaccine mandates,” said Attorney General Ashley Moody. “We will always fight illegal government actions that negatively impact first responders, America’s workers, and public safety.”
“Condemning Americans to financial instability is detrimental to the well-being of this country and to public health,” said Dr. Joseph Ladapo, Surgeon General of Florida. “The Governor has made it clear: Florida will not stand by and allow hard working citizens to be subjected to unemployment because they are being forced to show vaccine documentation, especially those who have remained on the front lines of COVID-19 for nearly two years now. The Department of Health will continue to protect Floridians through multi-faceted and data-driven solutions, not overreach.”
During this Special Session, Governor DeSantis is asking the Florida Legislature to provide protections for employees facing termination because of unfair, discriminatory COVID-19 vaccine mandates and to reaffirm that government entities including school districts may not fire any employee based on COVID-19 vaccine status. Violating government entities should be held accountable. Employers’ broad liability protections should also be reevaluated if they harm employees through vaccine mandates.
In addition, we are asking the Florida Legislature to provide greater protections to parents to manage the health care decisions of their children, including the freedom to opt their children out of mask mandates. According to Florida Department of Health data over the last twelve to fourteen months, COVID-19 infection data from Florida counties reflects no meaningful difference between counties with parent opt-outs for mask requirements. 
The Governor was also joined at today’s event by Floridians who shared their stories about being terminated from their jobs or having their livelihood threatened due to vaccine mandates. 
Kate Johnson, a Registered Nurse in both Washington, D.C., and in Florida, is troubled by vaccine mandates and said, “I recovered from COVID, I have natural immunity, and I am pregnant. There are special considerations that must be taken into account, but in this current climate there is not any consideration given to people’s medical exemption, religious exemption, or overall perspective. It is very concerning to me that there are going to be so many patients who suffer as a result of this mandate. People need nurses – we are in a critical nursing shortage. To take away even 5% of the workforce in a city like D.C., to put a mandate like this in place is detrimental to those patients’ health. As a nurse who cares deeply about what happens to my patients… it is concerning to me that these mandates would put those people’s lives in jeopardy. It is very nice to be in a place where we have a Governor who is willing to stand up for us, who believes that nurses matter, who believes that patients matter and believes that we need to have frontline workers.”
Placido Garza is an airplane mechanic who has worked for American Airlines for 30 years. His family fled Cuba and Placido is seeing many alarming similarities in government overreach through recent mandates and said, “I worked for major airlines for 30 years, but now we are facing a deadline, and it is hard [to face] after 30 years of doing this proudly. My family left Cuba. Many of my family went to prison. Growing up there, I remember when my sister and I were kids they came in and broke the door to search my house and take my father. I saw my father lose his job because he thought differently, because he did not agree with the dictatorship. Now that we are seeing what is going on here, I am really scared, I am really concerned. Now I am going to lose my job over this? You guys better wake up. What is coming, I don’t think it is good. Thanks to the Governor that we have here… we are going to stand together. I am not against the vaccine, I am for it, but I am against the mandate.”
Stephen Davis is a father of two young children and Battalion Chief from the Orange County Fire Rescue who recently lost his job because he refused to write up his fellow first responders for not complying with vaccine mandates. Stephen shared his story, saying: “[For nearly] four years, I’ve been a Battalion Chief [at Orange County Fire Rescue]. Two days ago, I was terminated for what I believe to be an unlawful order… I already knew that [many of these fire rescue personnel] had medical exemptions. I had personal conversations with several who said they had the vaccination. And yet I was ordered to give them reprimands. To me, this violated more than just a law – it violated their own civil rights. It violated the trust that these men and women [who] have served over the last year and a half in the front lines… Thank you, Governor. Thank you for everything you’ve done. I know in the end we will prevail.” 
The full video of the announcement is available for use here, courtesy Governor’s Press Office.

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