ORLANDO, Fla. - Governor Ron DeSantis says a COVID-19 vaccine will not be mandated in Florida, but some attorneys and lawmakers say they're concerned the state government has the power to put a COVID-19 vaccine mandate in place.
Members of the American Freedom Information Institute, a nonprofit group that says it shares legal information rooted in science, is calling for a pre-emptive strike preventing a state-mandated COVID-19 vaccine.
DeLand attorney Shawn McBride believes in this executive order, Gov. DeSantis authorized the state surgeon general to declare a public health emergency. Under that order and under state law, the surgeon general could order anyone considered a public risk to be vaccinated.
"The state health officer could say we're going to have a mandated vaccine and start the procedures in the [Florida] Department of Health to carry that out, whatever that might look like as far as who gets it when and tracking," said Shawn McBride, with American Freedom Information Institute, Inc.
The state law says if someone is ordered to take the vaccine and doesn't, that person could be subject to quarantine. If they can't isolate, then the state "may use any means necessary to vaccinate or treat the individual." Gov. DeSantis has said he will not mandate a COVID-19 vaccine.
"The state will not mandate that Floridians take these vaccines. That's going to be the choice of each and every Floridian," DeSantis said.
Dr. Jason Littleton, of Littleton Concierge Medicine, believes the vaccine could help stop the spread of COVID-19.
"They need to understand the risk and benefits, but they need to execute their autonomous decision whether they want to take the vaccination or not," Dr. Littleton said.
McBride's group believes the decision to take a vaccine should be an individual choice.
"They're not saying they won't take the vaccine. We don't want anyone else to take the vaccine," McBride said.
Republican Representative Anthony Sabatini said Monday that he's going to file a bill next week that would eliminate the state's power to mandate a vaccine.