This week, after alerting the City of Gainesville of their possible violation of the vaccination passport ban in Florida, the Florida Department of Health received a response indicating the City of Gainesville rescinded its employee vaccine mandate.
This reversal also follows an Eighth Judicial Circuit Court temporary injunction preventing vaccine mandates for city employees.
“In May, I signed SB 2006 to empower Floridians – not elected politicians – to take charge of their personal health decisions,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “We are not going to allow our first responders and government employees, many of whom have been on the front lines for over a year and a half, to be cast aside by local politicians’ mandates. This reversal by the City of Gainesville is a victory for liberty.”
On September 13, flanked by a handful of first-responders who faced losing their jobs because of COVID-19 vaccine mandates imposed by liberal communities, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis vowed to fight forced jabs, whether imposed locally or by the Biden administration.
“You don’t just cast aside people … over this issue, over what’s basically a personal choice on their individual health,” said DeSantis. “To just throw them out like they’re chopped liver, that is just fundamentally wrong.”
The governor appeared in Alachua County to discuss employees who face termination because of a city-imposed vaccine mandate. More than 200 city employees have sued the city in response, a lawsuit that the state supports, according to Attorney General Ashley Moody, who attended the press conference with DeSantis.
DeSantis noted that a state law passed this year banned vaccine mandates and passports, and that applied to government agencies as well. Governments that violate the statute by making vaccination a condition of employment face a $5,000 fine for each occurrence.
DeSantis pointed out that the vaccines have always been “available for all, but mandatory for none.” That drew raucous applause from the hundreds gathered for his comments, a crowd infused with Gainesville city firefighters and those from other departments who lent their support.
DeSantis argued that the Biden administration and local officials who agree with its push for mandates have threatened the livelihoods and pensions of thousands of people, while also wholly disregarding the strength of natural immunity, in promoting a “very intrusive and, I think, illegal policy.”
The workers who joined DeSantis in speaking out against the mandates maintained that they were not anti-vaccine, but anti-mandate.
One of them was Gainesville city employee Christine Damm, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, and mother of four. “My body, my choice, my business,” she explained. “We just want to show up and do our jobs, to make medical decisions without our employer dictating to us what to do. … I will not comply.”
Gainesville Fire Rescue Lt. Jonathan Cicio, a 16-year veteran of the department, who is a father of five children as well as five foster children, said he fully expects to lose his job because he won’t get the shot.
Cicio, a technical rescue expert who responded to the condo collapse in Surfside, noted that first-responders answered calls for help throughout the pandemic, and now reject the idea that others know better for their safety.
“Now, we’re being told that we don’t know what’s right for us and that we cannot make our own health decisions,” said Cicio, noting that many firefighters have contracted COVID and recovered, and have natural immunity.
“We are not anti-vaccine. We are anti-mandate,” said Cicio. “We feel betrayed and used. While we were heroes and selfless not long ago, now we’re selfish.”
“There’s an absurd amount of virtue-signaling going on,” Cicio added. “There is science and studies that are either ignored or twisted to fit their agenda. Those who stand up and cry, ‘My body, my choice,’ where are they at now. Friends, do not be fooled into thinking you’re crazy or extreme for wanting to make your own health choices.”
After Cicio spoke, DeSantis then slammed the mandate advocates for failing to acknowledge immunity from past infection.
“If you were really following science, you would acknowledge this natural immunity, and instead they ignore it and force somebody who already has protection to take a medical treatment they may not like. It’s really about using government power and control to mandate, much more than underlying medical issues. … If you do not acknowledge that, you are not following the science,” the governor said.
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