Florida legislature passed a bill making it illegal for schools to require COVID-19 vaccines - but a long list of shots are already required to attend school in the state

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Kelsey Vlamis
·3 min read
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Requiring proof of a coronavirus vaccination is becoming increasingly common as states and countries move to loosen restrictions and open up travel. Jon Cherry / Stringer / Getty Images
  • The Florida legislature passed a bill banning schools from requiring COVID-19 vaccinations.

  • The state of Florida requires a long list of vaccines for public school students.

  • Gov. Ron DeSantis already passed an executive order banning businesses from requiring "vaccine passports."

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

The Florida legislature passed a bill Thursday that would ban schools from requiring students to provide proof of a COVID-19 vaccination, despite the fact that the state already requires students to receive a long list of shots.

The bill, which now heads to Gov. Ron DeSantis' office for signing, was aimed at updating protocols for emergency planning and management, including public health emergencies. A brief section towards the end of the bill outlaws schools, businesses, and government entities from requiring coronavirus vaccine documentation.

The bill also codifies in legislation an executive order DeSantis, a Republican, signed earlier this month banning businesses from requiring "vaccine passports" and the government from issuing them.

"So-called COVID-19 vaccine passports reduce individual freedom and will harm patient privacy," the order said.

However, the state of Florida already requires students to submit proof of vaccinations and immunizations in order to attend public school, and has for decades.

"Florida requires certain vaccines to be administered before children may enroll and attend childcare and school," the Florida Department of Health website says.

The list of required shots includes: the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine; a polio vaccine; the chickenpox vaccine; the Hepatitis B vaccine; and multiple others.

Limited exemptions are available under state and federal law, as is also likely to be the case with COVID-19 vaccines. For instance, universities that have already said they will require coronavirus vaccinations have indicated there will be the usual exemptions.

Speaking to the Miami Herald, state representative Tom Leek, a Republican, defended the new bill, saying coronavirus vaccines "don't have the same proven history of the same vaccines we require our school children to get. We must recognize that vaccine hesitancy is real and understandable."

COVID-19 vaccines used in the US underwent extensive clinical trials that indicated they were safe and effective, prompting the Food and Drug Administration to authorize them for emergency use, which is used in special circumstances. They have not yet received standard FDA approval, a process which typically takes multiple years.

Requiring proof of a coronavirus vaccination is becoming increasingly common as states and countries move to loosen restrictions and open up travel.

On Sunday, a European Union official said the EU would allow American tourists this summer, but only if they can prove they are vaccinated.

More than 100 universities across the US will require students to provide proof that they are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus before attending school in the fall, The New York Times reported.

And experts previously told Insider that requiring proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test could allow for large scale events, like sporting events or concerts, to resume with less risk. The San Francisco Giants, for instance, are requiring fans older than 12 years old to provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test result in order to enter the stadium.

Have a news tip? Contact this reporter at kvlamis@insider.com.

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