The Florida Department of Health announced Monday it is developing vaccine opt-out forms for Florida employers who want to require staff vaccinations.
A new permanent rule also will include standards for two of the five potential avenues staff can use under the Florida law to exempt themselves from vaccines.
A draft copy of the proposed permanent rule has not been published and the health department did not announce when, or if, it would hold a rule development workshop on the regulation 64D-3.050 when released. Indeed, the notice in the Monday edition of the Florida Administrative Register says a rule development workshop would be held upon written request and if, “not deemed unnecessary by the agency head.”
The health department is headed by State Surgeon General nominee, Joseph Ladapo.
The permanent rule will replace an emergency rule the administration of Gov. Ron DeSantis published Nov. 22. Emergency rules don’t go through the traditional rulemaking process, and they take effective immediately. But emergency rules are temporary, which is why the state needs to adopt permanent rules.
At the behest of DeSantis, the Florida Legislature met in a Special Session in November, where Lawmakers passed four bills aimed at empowering the Governor in his crusade against President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandates and blocking them from taking effect.
One of the bills the Governor signed into law (HB 1B) bars private employers from imposing a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for any full-time, part-time, or contract employee without providing individual exemptions on the basis of medical reasons, including, but not limited to, pregnancy or anticipated pregnancy; religious reasons; COVID-19 immunity; periodic testing and the use of employer-provided personal protective equipment.
The law directed the state Department of Health to come up with standards for “anticipated pregnancy” as well as “COVID-19 immunity.”
The proposed new permanent rule regarding the forms and medical standards will only apply to private employers. That’s because the Legislature banned vaccine mandates for all public employees.
The Biden administration has pushed for vaccine mandates on federal contractors, large private employers as well as health care providers that rely on federal funding. Those mandates have drawn a flurry of lawsuits from states, including Florida. Courts have blocked the mandate for private companies and two federal judges have blocked the mandate for health care workers across the nation.
Florida has its own lawsuit against the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Service and the Department of Health and Human Services. A federal appeals court in Atlanta on Sunday turned down a request from Attorney General Ashley Moody to block the mandate.