Florida's governor stood by while he let an anti-vaxxer stand at the podium during a press conference and spout blatant misinformation about Covid vaccines, in a move that has infuriated medical experts.
Ron DeSantis held a press conference on Monday (local time), where he invited people up on stage to discuss Covid vaccines and vaccine mandates.
"We don't want to have the vaccine, it's about our freedom and liberty," one man by the name of Darris said while he stood beside the governor.
"It's not about the vaccine. They're taking away our freedom and liberty, little by little, they're using a vaccine for cover."
Darris declared the vaccine "changes your RNA", which is not true – mRNA vaccines do not change your genetic code.
"How to kill your residents as the Governor of Florida in 3, 2, 1… giving microphone to anti-vaccine nonsense, with no push back whatsoever," epidemiologist Eric Feigl-Ding tweeted in response to the video.
"People will die from @GovRonDeSantis giving this guy a microphone and podium."
How mRNA Covid vaccines work
Covid vaccines like Pfizer and Moderna are mRNA vaccines, they work by introducing the mRNA molecule into your body, so your cells produce a protein which resembles one of the viral proteins that make up SARS-CoV-2.
“This cannot change your genetic makeup,” Dr Dan Culver, a pulmonologist at Cleveland Clinic previously told the Associated Press.
“The time that this RNA survives in the cells is relatively brief in the span of hours. What you are really doing is sticking a recipe card into the cell making protein for a few hours.”
Once you're vaccinated, immune cells will recognise the spike protein as foreign and start building an immune response to it.
The press conference tackled the issue of vaccine mandates and Darris and some of the others invited on stage insisted it was their choice what they put in their body.
"No one should tell you what to put in your body. I choose what goes on my body, of course I eat hamburgers and french fries but that's my choice what I put in," Darris said to the cheering crowd while Governor DeSantis looks on.
Florida has been a national epicentre for Covid-19.
Covid-19 deaths in Florida accounted for more than 20 per cent of the virus-related deaths across the country last week, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
The data shows the state is recording over 1700 Covid related deaths a week and overall there has been 43,000 Covid-related deaths.
Florida not mandating employee vaccinations
However, the governor has decided to come down hard on local governments who are requiring their employees to get vaccinated.
He threatened local governments with a fine of $5000 ($A6817) per violation, if they require staff to be vaccinated.
The Republican governor said local municipalities, such as Orange County and the city of Gainesville, potentially face millions of dollars in cumulative fines for implementing vaccine requirements.
“We are not going to let people be fired because of a vaccine mandate,” DeSantis said at a news conference outside Gainesville.
“You don’t just cast aside people who have been serving faithfully over this issue, over what is basically a personal choice on their individual health.”
DeSantis is running for re-election next year and is widely seen as a potential candidate to be the GOP’s presidential nominee in 2024.
Earlier this year, DeSantis signed legislation prohibiting proof of vaccination in order to get services from businesses or governments.
He also issued an order preventing local governments from imposing restrictions meant to stop the spread of the virus.
With Associated Press
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