Disney is halting the mandatory immunization for its workers and students in Florida amid a controversy over the company’s use of a controversial vaccine law.
The company said Thursday it was halting the mandatory vaccination for new hires and students until it could confirm its policy was in compliance with state law, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
The move comes after Gov. Rick Scott, R, declared an emergency on May 18 to block some school zones from enforcing the mandatory mandatory vaccination law. The law requires public and private schools to enforce immunization requirements for students or face penalties, including expulsion.
“Disney wishes to ensure that all Florida public and private schools remain compliant with Florida law, including the nationwide mandate on vaccinations,” the company said in a statement, according to the Orlando Sentinel. “To ensure that our employees and students remain compliant with the law, Disney is halting the mandatory vaccination of all new employees and students.”
An Orlando Sentinel article published on Wednesday outlined the difficulties Disney faced in enforcing the policy. In a statement posted on Twitter, the company attributed the policy confusion to Florida’s mandatory immunization law. The law requires schools to report annual vaccination reports to state health officials. Schools are required to report the children’s immunization records by July 1, the Sun Sentinel reports.
“We make it clear in our thorough training and encouraging our teachers and employees that the only issues Disney is responsible for is proper students and proper employees,” the statement read. “Our schools are not responsible for responding to and responding to threats. It is solely up to the Florida schools and health departments to notify the agencies that are responsible for making sure children are immunized and the backgrounds of parents who do not vaccinate their children.”
Many parents are choosing to pull their children out of school due to concerns over vaccinations, the publication reports. Parents told the paper the National Health and Wellness Center, a private medical center within the Walt Disney World Resort, called their children in on the mandatory vaccination law and got them to declare that they were exempt.
The Florida Department of Health reported there were more than 1,800 students this school year who were exempt from the state’s vaccination requirement. That doesn’t include those who have expressed an “immunological exemption,” which protects students from the state’s immunization law because of philosophical objections to the vaccines.
The Sentinel’s story on the Florida chain of events was spurred by a father of a 5-year-old who told the paper about his struggles to get his son’s immunization records from Disney after getting the boy’s immunization records from the state. He said he received an email from the company on the 24th saying his son was exempt but that it would be taking six weeks to get his records from the state. When the boy’s immunization records arrived, however, they were dated Nov. 5, 2017, the report notes.
Disney told the Orlando Sentinel it experienced a similar delay and refiled their records in the correct date. The company said its own records were sent by snail mail to the doctor in Florida’s public school system for mail back to Disney.
Florida’s governor issued an executive order and governor’s emergency order banning some school zones from enforcing the mandatory vaccination law. The move came after health officials recommended the mandatory vaccination law to be implemented in the hurricane-stricken state. However, pediatricians, insurers and health advocacy groups say it is flawed and imposes unnecessary costs.