1 of 4 | Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said workers should not face losing their jobs if they don't get a COVID-19 vaccine. File Photo by Joe Marino/UPI | License Photo
Oct. 21 (UPI) -- Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday called a special session of the Florida Legislature to pass legislation banning COVID-19 vaccine mandates.
Speaking from the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office Hangar, he announced the special session would take place in November. He called for lawmakers to provide protections for workers whose employment is threatened by vaccine mandates.
"Your right to earn a living should not be contingent upon COVID shots," DeSantis said.
"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 for no one 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."
DeSantis was joined in the press conference by Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez, Attorney General Ashley Moody and Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo.
"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," Ladapo said. "The Department of Health will continue to protect Floridians through multi-faceted and data-driven solutions, not overreach."
In addition to banning mandates, DeSantis called for employers to be held accountable if an employee becomes sick or injured from taking a mandatory vaccine.
Ahead of the press conferences, members of DeSantis' staff handed out signs to attendees featuring an alligator on a yellow background reading "Don't Tread on Florida."
DeSantis' announcement Thursday comes as other states implement vaccine mandates in certain settings. California announced a requirement for all public school students, while New York City municipal workers, Maine healthcare workers and New Jersey public school teachers and healthcare workers must be vaccinated.
The Biden administration has ordered all federal employees to be vaccinated as well as members of the military.