Today’s entry: I have a child who will be attending a private non-religious university in Florida this fall. Although they are not requiring a covid vaccine to attend, they are requiring proof of the covid vaccine if vaccinated. Those that are not vaccinated must test twice a week and wear a mask. In the meantime, I was wondering if they can enforce this because they are a private institution? Is this even permissible?
Bottom Line: On May 3rd Governor DeSantis signed the so-called “Vaccine Passport” legislation into law. As of July 1st, it’s the law. The key to what the law does and doesn’t do is spelled out in what Governor DeSantis said upon having signed the legislation. He said, "in Florida, your personal choice regarding vaccinations will be protected and no business or government entity will be able to deny you services based on your decision". That’s the crux of the new law. You can’t be denied services based on vaccination status and in the case of businesses and institutions alike, this is where terms and restrictions may apply. As is the case with the college your child will be attending this fall.
While Florida’s law states that you can’t be denied service, it doesn’t state that businesses and institutions can’t ask for vaccination status. It also doesn’t state that they can’t apply different standards to the vaccinated vs the unvaccinated, it just states that service can’t be denied. That’s what’s happening in the case of many colleges across Florida and it’s the model currently being used by the cruise industry as well.
Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Grand Bahama Cruise Lines are all requesting proof of vaccination. If you don’t show proof, you have to submit to COVID-19 testing, which you must pay for, along with commonly travel insurance. While it might not be fully in the spirit of the state’s law, it is compliant with the law. That’s the model being used by those who’re seeking proof of vaccination and it’s a way to effectively work an end-around against Florida’s law.
If anything, based on the summer surge in COVID-19 cases, we’re likely to see more industries consider this type of policy. It’s also a reminder for the fully vaccinated to hang onto their CDC-provided vaccine card because you never know when you might need or want to use it. Even if you feel as though it’s no one else’s business. Incidentally, there have been discussions in certain circles about tightening up the loopholes being used, it’s possible follow-up legislation is considered in the upcoming state session which starts in January, however that won’t help you or your child today.
Each day I feature a listener question sent by one of these methods.
Parler & Twitter: @brianmuddradio