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Anti-vax bills signed into law; here’s how it could impact St. Petersburg

Veronica Brezina

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Covid vaccine
Team members at Bayfront Health unpack a box of Covid-19 vaccines. File photo.

A new legislative package signed into law will prevent workers from being required to get vaccinated. 

Thursday in Brandon, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a package of anti-covid vaccination bills. He stated this was the strongest legislation of its kind against a federal mandate on employer vaccine requirements.

The bills state employers will be required to allow Covid-19 vaccination exemptions, including reasons related to health or religious concerns, pregnancy or anticipated future pregnancy, and past recovery from Covid-19.

“I look forward to signing legislation that will protect their jobs and the jobs of all Floridians who are facing unjust termination due to heavy-handed mandates,” DeSantis tweeted before signing the bills. 

Mandates for requiring employees to be vaccinated among other regulations such as the wearing of masks have been put in place by many municipalities and businesses throughout Florida. 

In St. Petersburg, Mayor Rick Kriseman does not require vaccines for current city employees but does require it for new hires to become vaccinated against Covid-19. 

Kriseman has encouraged existing workers to get vaccinated by offering two hours of paid leave for each vaccination a worker gets during work hours. 

“A mayor forcing a genuinely frightened person to get the vaccine or get fired isn’t going to make us a better organization,” Kriseman said in a video about the enforcement. 

Kriseman’s office said he is communicating with his legal team regarding how the newly-signed bills will impact the city, especially on the city employment front. 

A highlight of what the new law dictates: 

  • It restricts businesses’ ability to mandate vaccines for their employees. Companies have to offer workers a number of exemptions or risk fines of at least $10,000 per violation from the state. 
  • It bans school districts from passing mask mandates. The Pinellas County School District does not have a mask mandate.
  • DeSantis is to form a plan for the state to eventually create a new agency to replace the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration in monitoring workplace safety. 

The legislation follows the Biden Administration’s rule on mandating employers with a certain employee headcount to require workers to be vaccinated or undergo weekly testing.

Affected health care facilities that do not abide would jeopardize losing Medicare and Medicaid funding. 

DeSantis said hospitals have been battling to preserve supplies and retain staff, but legislation such as the mandate on requiring vaccinations for health care workers is an added challenge and hospital staff may face an even larger staffing issue. 

“This is about power. It’s about control … it makes absolutely no sense to do this,” the governor said regarding the Biden Administration’s decisions. 

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Avatar

    John Donovan

    November 18, 2021at4:27 pm

    For vaccine, therapeutics and natural immunity. Against mandates. Welcome to the free State of Florida! Good thing we have the Governor we have; and not the disaster narrowly avoided.

  2. Avatar

    Jemc

    November 18, 2021at5:08 pm

    This is great! I wish I lived in Florida. So happy to know a politician with common sense and respect for the human race.

  3. Avatar

    Laura McGrath

    November 18, 2021at5:33 pm

    Freedom to infect others is not a freedom we should cherish as Americans. Rather, let’s do all we can to take care of ourselves and one another when faced with this all-too-often deadly disease. Science and kindness are aligned in this case. Vaccines and masks have been repeatedly proven to protect us from the most devastating effects of COVID.

    Watch the trends in Europe. With COVID cases rising there, we need to take every possible precaution to avoid another surge.

  4. Avatar

    Matt Norden

    November 19, 2021at5:09 pm

    As a tradesmen living and working in florida, I’m very concerned about not having the oversight of OSHA. Why not get rid of the DEA and the FBI while we’re at it? I’m vaccinated and I’m perfectly fine. There will always be a small percentage of people that have negative reactions to any medicine/ vaccine. That’s not a good reason to not take this one. Like the many vaccines we all received before elementary school. That’s why we’re all not walking around with polio and leg braces.

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