It would seem when the Florida Legislature and Governor Ron DeSantis say that an employee’s vaccination status is nobody’s business, they mean it. A physician and top official of the Florida Department of Health has been placed on administrative leave after he criticized the agency’s staff over their low Covid vaccination rate. The epidemiologist is said to have sent an email in the first week of this year to the staff of the FDOH, calling the agency’s unvaccinated employees “irresponsible” and “pathetic.” He pointed out that, despite the agency’s mission of “public health,” less than 40% of their staff had received two shots, and only 77 out of 568, or 13.6%, have received the third “booster” shot.

In the message to all FDOH staff, the doctor wrote, “I am sorry but in the absence of reasonable and real reasons it is irresponsible not to be vaccinated. We have been at this for two years, we were the first to give vaccines to the masses, we have done more than 300,000 and we are not even at 50% – pathetic. I have a hard time understanding how we can be in public health and not practice it.”

Indeed. They are going to have a hard time getting their Pfizer Loyalty cards filled, which earns them a free pizza after the tenth shot.

Pfizer Loyalty Card

Legislation passed in Florida in 2021 prohibits all employers, public and private, from mandating Covid vaccination shots. 

A spokesperson for FDOH confirmed to reporters that the doctor’s actions were under investigation. They said, “As the decision to get vaccinated is a personal medical choice that should be made free from coercion and mandates from employers, the employee in question has been placed on administrative leave, and the Florida Department of Health is conducting an inquiry to determine if any laws were broken in this case. The Department is committed to upholding all laws, including the ban on vaccine mandates for government employees and will take appropriate action once additional information is known.”

I am not an “anti-vaxxer,” but my continued stance on personal choice likely places me in that category in many people’s minds. Still, with the Omicron surge, many questions surrounding the true efficacy of the vaccines are swirling. It is ironic, to the casual observer, that the employees of an agency responsible for spearheading public health initiatives in the state are so reluctant to, at a personal level, follow their own agency’s agenda. It certainly does highlight the challenges of foisting what has been an experimental vaccine on a broader population. 

The government and media certainly did not help smooth the educational curve. What was portrayed by both government and media as a “full FDA approval” of the Pfizer vaccine last August was not actually very accurate. A letter issued by that oversight agency on August 23, 2021, stated the Pfizer vaccine Comirnaty was approved, but in a September 22, 2021 letter clarified the brand BioNTech remained under Emergency Use Authorization until 2023. Comirnaty is manufactured in Germany and was not distributed in the US. BioNTech was what was distributed in this country. It wasn’t until January 3, 2022, just more than two weeks ago, the FDA clarified the issue yet again, issuing a letter approving the brand BioNTech.

I believe the failure of media and “health experts” to fully disclose this fact is one of many factors contributing to continued suspicions surrounding the entire rollout. And clearly, employees of a major state health agency appear to have some of those concerns. 

Beyond that, and with the US Supreme Court’s recent decisions eliminating one mandate while affirming another, varying state laws and federal policy inconsistencies will create hazardous minefields for employers for the foreseeable future. Questions and disagreements will persist surrounding vaccination protocols. The good news, if there is any, is that Pfizer has assured the public that yet another vaccine, effective against Omicron, will be available in time for their 2nd quarter earnings statement. 

At least their investors should be quite happy.


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