Senate bill bans mandatory vaccinations in public health emergencies
Florida's surgeon general asked requested a halt to some Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for Coronavirus. Feds rejected request.

Clay Yarborough's bill also would give the Legislature a role in emergency declarations.

A newly filed bill in the Florida Senate puts further guardrails on what can happen during a public health emergency.

SB 1618, filed Friday by Sen. Clay Yarborough, makes several key changes to Section 381.00315 of the Florida Statutes, the section governing public health advisories and emergencies. Vaccinations would be impacted, as would the Governor’s prerogatives to impose a public health emergency and a right to refuse treatment based on “conscience” and other subjective factors.

The Jacksonville Republican’s bill clarifies legislative intent to include that “treatment” does not include compulsory vaccinations, a seeming response to inoculations made compulsory in much of the country in response to COVID-19.

In addition to restrictions on the “administration of vaccinations,” the bill also puts restrictions on the executive branch, should a Governor see fit to impose a state of emergency.

Yarborough’s bill contemplates that the emergency “expires” 60 days after its declaration. While the Governor can unilaterally extend the public health emergency for 30 more days, further expansions would be impossible without supermajority approval in both the House and the Senate, with each renewal applicable for 30 days. Without renewals, any such emergency would sunset.

The bill also edits current language regarding the right to refuse vaccination, though it still permits sequestration of the non-compliant.

“However, an individual may refuse examination, testing, or treatment for reasons of health, religion, or conscience by submitting a refusal in writing to the State Health Officer. Such individuals may not be required to undergo examination, testing, or treatment but who are unable or unwilling to be examined, tested, or treated for reasons of health, religion, or conscience may be subjected to isolation or quarantine.”

There is no House companion to this bill, which would take effect July 1 if passed and signed into law.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


  • tom palmer

    March 4, 2023 at 5:59 pm

    Hope polio, malaria and yellow fever don’t make a comeback or those boneheads will have some answering to do.

  • Rebecca

    March 4, 2023 at 8:43 pm

    Dental and medical assistants still need to get vaccinated before the next pandemic, likely to be norovirus, which is now hitting Great Britain’s elderly hard. Time for the medical profession to acknowledge they are getting no leadership from public health authorities.

  • Lex

    March 5, 2023 at 3:30 pm

    Everything is better if it is debated. We may need to allow emergency Zoom meetings of the legislature. Both political parties screwed up COVID emergency orders so much that the public has no trust in our government at any level. If you are going to eviscerate fundamental rights, then it would make sense to have public hearings (even if they are public because of Zoom).

    I too worry that we’ll get a real emergency and because COVID-19 was really the boy crying wolf with no research done on things like whether masks helped. If we get a real emergency in the future, we won’t believe our politicians and bureaucrats.

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