Sen. Lauren Book, a Plantation Democrat, is proposing legislation that would require licensed day care centers to ensure a minimum share of children have received recommended vaccinations in order to retain their license.
The legislation (SB 1022) tasks the Department of Children and Families (DCF) with determining where to set that minimum standard. Under current state law, licensed day cares already face other minimum requirements for things like periodic health examinations and maintaining emergency information and health records for children.
Book’s bill adds to existing law, stating that all minimum standards “shall include a minimum percentage of all children enrolled in the child care facility who must have received immunizations.” Again, DCF would establish that precise percentage.
“Every child deserves to go to school free from disease, but because of a lack in oversight, young children who attend Florida’s daycares are in danger of contracting serious preventable diseases like measles,” Book said in a Wednesday release.
“For immune-compromised children, these diseases can cause life-threatening illness or death. We must protect the health of our children, our communities, and our state’s tourism-driven economy — especially in the wake of COVID-19.”
Anti-vaccination opponents have gone after Book in the past over her push to require vaccinations for public school students. That 2020 measure failed. Book’s 2021 bill is limited to day care facilities, but could engender similar pushback from parents opposed to similar health mandates.
Dr. Lisa Gwynn, the president of the Florida Chapter of American Academy of Pediatrics and proponent of Book’s new measure, pushed back against those concerns in a statement highlighted by Book’s team.
“Vaccines are the most effective and safest way of preventing communicable diseases and save between two and three million children’s lives each year,” Gwynn said. “This pandemic has shown us firsthand that we cannot let our guard down and must continue to make vaccinations a number one public health priority.”
Ahead of the 2021 Legislative Session, Book pushed multiple measures surrounding children’s health and safety. One measure would remove the statute of limitations for civil suits filed by childhood sexual abuse survivors. Another bill would limit the use of seclusion and restraint techniques for students with disabilities.