Updated Nov 18, 2021 - Health

Florida governor signs bills limiting COVID vaccine mandates

Flordia Gov. Ron DeSantis. Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law Thursday four bills passed by Republicans that protect workers who refuse to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Why it matters: With the bills signed, Florida becomes the first state with a law imposing possible fines on companies that require a COVID-19 vaccine as a condition of employment, CNN reports.

  • The bills were passed during a special legislative session the Republican governor convened to battle vaccine mandates. DeSantis, who has undermined federal vaccine requirements for months, claimed victory shortly before the bill was passed.
  • State Sen. Danny Burgess, a Republican who sponsored legislation, said that it "appropriately balances the rights of individuals to make their own health care decisions with the authority of employers to regulate workplaces."
  • State Democrats have slammed the bills. “Does this bill truly attempt to keep Floridians safe, or was it crafted to kick off a presidential campaign for our governor?” asked state Democratic Rep. Angie Nixon, per NBC 6.

Background: DeSantis has fought vehemently against public health measures, suing the Biden administration over its mandates and penalizing counties and districts that implement vaccine or mask mandates.

What they're saying: “I told Floridians that we would protect their jobs and today we made that the law,” DeSantis said in a statement Thursday.

  • “Nobody should lose their job due to heavy-handed COVID mandates and we had a responsibility to protect the livelihoods of the people of Florida," he added.
  • Biden administration representatives did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with additional details about DeSantis signing the bills.

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