Florida lawmaker files bill to strip state of power to mandate vaccines for residents

A file image shows a medical worker preparing a vaccine during a COVID-19 vaccine trial. (Photo by Adriana Adie/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

With a COVID-19 vaccine on the horizon, one Florida lawmaker wants to strip the state of its power to require vaccinations.

Rep. Anthony Sabatini, R-Clermont, filed House Bill 6003 for the 2021 legislative session, seeking to change Florida's law that allows the state's health officer to issue mandates during public health emergencies.

Currently, health emergency mandates can order residents to be examined, tested, vaccinated, treated, isolated or quarantined -- but Sabatini's bill would remove vaccinations from the list.

RELATED: DeSantis says Florida will make vaccines available to residents, but won't mandate them

"It's just too much power for the government to have," the lawmaker told WPTV. "I believe in a free society where people make their own decisions."

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis already said the state would not force residents to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

"Our goal is to make all safe and effective COVID vaccines available to Floridians who want them, but the state will not mandate that Floridians take these vaccines," DeSantis said in November. "That's going to be the choice of each and every Floridian."

RELATED: Tampa Bay area medical providers prepare for vaccine storage, distribution

The 2021 legislative session begins on March 2. If the bill passes, it would take effect on July 1.

Tampa General Hospital will be among the first across Florida to store the new COVID-19 vaccine while they wait for final approval to use it. 

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The vaccine stored by hospitals will be whichever one the government approves first, possibly the one from Pfizer. Adventhealth Orlando will reportedly also be among the first, along with UF Health Jacksonville, Hollywood's Memorial Regional and Miami's Jackson Memorial. 

The first vaccines would start arriving mid-December with another shipment on the way in January.