Ron DeSantis stands by as city worker falsely claims vaccines ‘change your RNA’ at press conference

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At a press conference with Florida governor Ron DeSantis, a city employee falsely said Covid-19 vaccines “change your RNA.”

Governor DeSantis said nothing.

The governor had been speaking in Gainesville, Florida on Monday to voice his opposition to vaccine mandates, which he says violate people’s rights. Then he invited up several Gainesville employees, many of whom are suing the city over its requirement that they get the shot.

Darris Friend, a plaintiff in that lawsuit, took the stage.

“The vaccine changes your RNA, so, for me, that’s a problem,” Mr Friend said, incorrectly.

The two mRNA vaccines, produced by Pfizer and Moderna, do not change a recipient’s DNA or RNA. A popular conspiracy theory that they do so has been repeatedly debunked.

As Mr Friend went on, Governor DeSantis did not correct the misinformation. Later, however, a spokesperson told The Independent that the governor does not believe this.

“The governor has never said the vaccine changes your RNA, and nobody who has seen his 50+ public appearances promoting vaccination throughout Florida this year would think that is the governor’s position,” said Mr DeSantis’ press secretary, Christina Pushaw. “The speaker whose remarks included that comment, was at the press conference in his capacity as a member of a lawsuit against the city government’s extreme overreach.”

As President Biden enacts new federal vaccine mandates over Republican objections, the city of Gainesville has become a microcosm of the political clash over the shots. In August, the Gainesville City Commission adopted a new rule that all city employees must get vaccinated for Covid by mid-October, or risk losing their jobs. Two hundred of those employees fought back by suing the city – with Mr DeSantis’ emphatic support.

“We’re here today to make it very clear that we are going to stand for the men and women who are serving us,” the governor said on Monday. “We’re going to protect Florida jobs. We are not going to let people be fired because of the vaccine mandate.”

Mr DeSantis also said he would impose $5,000 fines on cities and counties that attempt to enforce vaccine mandates on their workers.

Florida is among the states worst hit by the latest wave of the coronavirus – fuelled by the highly contagious Delta variant – with a seven-day average of about 15,600 new cases per day.

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