Florida government defends right to choose whether to vaccinate

Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis says people who decide not to get a COVID-19 vaccine may be making the wrong choice, but he defends his right to choose

“There are some people who may make decisions that ultimately aren’t the right decision for them,” DeSantis said at a news conference Tuesday in Miami-Dade County. “Obviously there are probably people who have been hospitalized, which probably wouldn’t happen if they did.”

The discussion was a follow-up to a campaign-like incident on Monday, where DeSantis and two freely elected Republican cabinet members criticized local government and federal vaccine mandates. Several Gainesville city employees said at the event, the government should not force them to get vaccinated.

One speaker said that vaccines alter people’s RNA, leading critics to say DeSantis is spreading anti-vaccine theories. But DeSantis said he does not share the opinion.

“To be honest, I don’t even remember him saying that. So, I haven’t said anything like that. I think the data on vaccination is very clear,” he said. “You are much less likely to be hospitalized or die if you have been vaccinated.”

Pfizer and Moderna Vaccines deliver a synthetic form of messenger RNA to the body, but that material is short-lived and does not affect the body’s genetic material. The mRNA in vaccines instructs cells in the body to make a harmless fragment called a “spike protein,” which signals an immune response against COVID-19. The body’s cells then break down the mRNA.

“What we did yesterday was like, ‘Okay, this is something we’ve made available to everyone. We worked really hard, we were very successful in delivering it, but to take away someone’s job?” DeSantis said. “These people are on the front lines for us throughout this pandemic, and if anyone needs their help, whether they are COVID positive or not, these people were on the scene.”

Still, Democrats used Monday’s incident to criticize DeSantis, who turns 43 Tuesday, and people opposed to vaccines.

“He is spending the week of his birthday downplaying vaccines and colluding by standing up to vaccineers who tell dangerous lies. “DeSantis’ commitment to playing politics remains life-threatening for more Floridians as the child’s COVID mortality rate has more than doubled and hospitalizations continue,” the Democratic National Committee said in a news release. “


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