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US surgeon general advocates vaccine mandates as Gov. Ron DeSantis fights them

'The more people who get vaccinated in Florida -- the safer the state will be,' Surgeon General Vivek Murthy says
Posted at 9:10 AM, Oct 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-01 09:10:33-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The nation's surgeon general was pushing vaccine mandates Thursday as effective, supported and needed to get Florida out of the COVID pandemic.

It comes as Gov. Ron DeSantis has continued to resist shot requirements -- again butting heads with the federal government.

The governor has at least three public feuds going with the White House -- monoclonal antibody supplies, immigration and one of the biggest is his opposition to vaccine mandates.

"The more people who get vaccinated in Florida, the safer the state will be," said Surgeon General Vivek Murthy. "If workplaces, universities and health care operations have vaccine requirements in place they will be safer places for people to work, get services and get care."

In the last few months, mandates have clearly increased shot rates across the country.

Murthy cited examples during our interview. United Airlines is the latest big business to tout success. Its requirements ensuring about 99% of the company's U.S. workforce has gotten shots.

FAU study on businesses requiring vaccines
In a Florida Atlantic University survey, more than 65 percent of Floridians supported businesses mandating the COVID-19 vaccines for their employees.

"We've seen this in other health systems, in businesses, in other settings as well," Murthy said. "The data and the experience tell us that it works."

Plenty of polls also show approval of mandates. Florida Atlantic University found last month more than 65 percent of Floridians surveyed supported shot rules for workers while bout 30 percent were opposed.

DeSantis hasn't budged, however. The Republican took a defiant stand earlier this month, framing his opposition as defense of personal choice.

"We are not going to let people be fired because of a vaccine mandate," he told a crowd on Sept. 13. "This is not something that should be coerced onto people. It should be something they have access to and can make that decision for themselves."

Gov. Ron DeSantis
Gov. Ron DeSantis has been steadfast in his opposition to businesses mandating the COVID-19 vaccine for workers.

DeSantis has vowed to fine local governments thousands for enacting mandates and has derided the Biden plan to require shots for businesses with 100 or more employees. The governor also recently installed a new state surgeon general who shares his views.

But shots have long been tied to mandates, as Murthy points out. Society often agrees to follow a set of rules to ensure a greater good. Murthy citing the fight against illnesses like measles, even highway safety. COVID-19, he said, is no different.

"What public health and science tells very clearly -- vaccines work," Murthy said. "Requirements help increase our vaccination rate. And vaccines will ultimately be our pathway out of this pandemic."

What's next? The nation is still waiting for federal officials to finish crafting the specifics of the Biden vaccine mandate. Once they're released and in place, experts said to expect legal challenges from several states. Florida might be among them.