Governor Ron DeSantis signed bills on Wednesday to call a special session to change how Florida immunizes its children after a federal court ruled that the state violated the First Amendment rights of parents who said their children could be subjected to overdiagnosis and over-vaccination.
The bills were signed without Republican leaders John Thrasher and Carlos Lopez-Cantera, the two lawmakers who co-sponsored them, and with pro-vaccine legislators abstaining or planning to attend a rally that was planned to take place on Thursday.
However, as the session gets underway, DeSantis’ chances of securing approval of his proposal on Thursday — an effort that, if he succeeds, would carry significant anti-vaccine momentum — seems slim.
The pro-vaccine lawmakers lined up by the Florida House of Representatives — which for the first time will have more than half a dozen members backing the laws — have a number of concerns with the proposals, including the fact that the bills don’t fund research studies.
But as early as yesterday, when the bills first cleared the state Senate, the Florida’s top pediatrician said his patients were “praying” for DeSantis to succeed with his proposals.
Joseph Pappalardo, who founded and teaches at Nova Southeastern University’s School of Medicine, told The Independent that Florida should, as a matter of practice, not require immunizations that parents don’t want, but that the proposed legislation, which he said is based on a flawed premise and incorrectly equates vaccines with Big Pharma profits, doesn’t pass that test.
“How in the hell do we stand up and support Florida parents if they can’t take advantage of that opportunity?” Pappalardo said. “As a mother, I would think that the most important thing a parent would do is protect their child. If that choice involves a vaccine, it’s unethical, immoral and unethical to try to get legislators to deny parents that right.”
Federal court ruled last year that Florida was in violation of its constitutional duties to ensure “free and uninhibited” speech by allowing over-vaccination. Many parents in the state have grown wary of vaccines after a number of small children died from vaccine-preventable diseases after receiving vaccinations. (Florida’s population is about 6.8 million.)
The American Academy of Pediatrics said Wednesday that it was pleased that the new proposals, if approved, would help “better balance the care” of children.
“We urge Florida lawmakers to take steps to address both the harm of unnecessary vaccine side effects, and the burden of these side effects on individuals who can’t avoid immunizations,” Dr. Nancy Messonnier, AAP’s chief of immunization services, said in a statement.
Read the full story at The Independent.
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