Disney World has suspended a policy that required visitors to have a prescription for a preventative vaccine after it was declared unconstitutional by the Florida supreme court.
Disney employees will now be required to receive a shot as part of their annual or recurring health insurance plan. In May, Disney said in an email to employees: “We are pleased to say that a Florida trial of the DisneyCare® medical plan has passed all current health care regulations and is therefore now compliant with all applicable state laws and regulations.”
Last week, the supreme court ruled that employees could not be required to purchase preventative vaccines against measles, mumps and rubella, citing a state law that prevented employers from forcing employees to obtain a health insurance plan that “directly and substantially compels employees to purchase services” or goods. The decision was the result of a lawsuit filed by California mother Mari Aldana, who has since moved the lawsuit to California.
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Florida resident Andrew Van Hook is suing Disney on similar grounds. Disney argues that the healthcare policy only applies to employees, not visitors.
The Florida supreme court’s opinion may have a broader impact because it seems to go further than that of the California supreme court, which ruled in 2017 that mandatory vaccinations are unconstitutional for school children. The Florida court only stated in its decision that Disney’s rules contravene state law and was more narrowly worded than the California supreme court’s reasoning.
Disney pushed back against the Florida decision, claiming the childcare laws were not related to the premise of the state’s high court – that mandatory vaccination for school children was unconstitutional.
“No valid medical reason exists for requiring a physician to conduct a medical examination, have a blood sample drawn, or provide an informed consent document before inoculating a child with an effective preventative against measles, mumps and rubella,” the company said in a press release. “Any suggestion otherwise is misleading and incorrectly mischaracterizes the intent of the Florida legislature and the state supreme court.”
Vaccination for preschoolers, the age of most children visiting Disney, is mandatory in Florida, where the tourism industry is a major part of the state’s economy. But the possibility of tourists becoming infected by “herd immunity” in others complicates the availability of vaccines for Disney employees.
Advocates for vaccinations say that having children attend school with those infected by measles, or close to one infected, is an unsafe practice. However, some healthcare workers have questioned the benefits of the vaccination. The Florida supreme court ruled that: “While the evidence in the case presented by Van Hook suggests there is at least a preliminary benefit to a herd immunity policy … [the proposed vaccination policy is] not based on sound scientific evidence.”
Last year, the biotech industry’s biggest lobbying group, the Biotechnology Industry Organization, filed a motion asking federal officials to overturn the California vaccination law.
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The Disney healthcare policy is the first major vaccine regulation implemented by a Florida employer. Critics believe that consumers may inadvertently be reimbursed by employers for vaccines that they get, forcing public health authorities to create policy to control the spread of diseases.
There are many known connections between vaccines and autism, and many health researchers have disputed the connection. In 2016, Trump, “Fox & Friends” and other Fox personalities disseminated discredited claims that “virtually all autism diagnoses are a result of the mercury in vaccines” and that vaccines “cause autism”.