Suwannee Valley Times is distributed into the following cities and towns: Lake City, Live Oak, Madison, Branford, Dowling Park, Falmouth, Lee, Wellborn, Jasper, White Springs, Fort White, High Springs and Alachua

Local firefighters speak out against unlawful vaccine mandates

Staff Reports


– Monday, Governor Ron DeSantis declared that the state of Florida is going to stand with Floridians in their fight against any unlawful vaccine mandates during a meeting in Newberry.

     In the governor’s opening statement he said he wanted to make it very clear that they are going to protect Florida jobs.“We are not going to let people be fired because of the vaccine mandate,” DeSantis stated. “These big government mandates strip away people’s rights to make the best decision for themselves, but we are going to protect Floridians from federal and local government overreach. That is why I signed SB 2006 in May, because Floridians, not any governmental entity, are responsible for taking charge of their personal health.” Additionally, the law imposes a $5,000 fine per violation for any entity, including government entities, that asks to see proof of vaccination in Florida.

     The governor was joined by other state and legislative officials along with local firefighters and city employees of Gainesville. This is what they had to say:

     Jonathan Cicio, Gainesville Fire Rescue said, “Through the pandemic, we [firefighters] served, but now we’re being told that we don’t know what’s right for us and that we cannot make our own personal health choices. We had [a] commissioner that sat behind a Zoom screen, and now they’re telling us about it [the pandemic] – we know, we’ve been there. Many of us have gotten COVID, or have immunity and many still have gotten the vaccine,” said Cicio. “We are not anti-vaccine. We are anti-mandate…. So friends, do not be fooled into thinking you’re crazy or extreme from wanting to make your own health choices, you’re not the problem. Let’s stand for what’s right. Stay in the fight.”

     Darris Friend, City of Gainesville Employee said, “It’s about our freedom and liberty. It’s not about the vaccine. They’re [the City of Gainesville] taking away our freedom and liberty, little by little.”

     Christine Damm, City of Gainesville Employee said, “If you need help, the people employed by the City of Gainesville will come help you. We are smart, educated, and easily employable individuals, many of whom have standing job offers, but are waiting to see what happens. Many of whom have already left at the city’s detriment. We just want to do our jobs. We want to show up and do our jobs to make medical decisions without our employer dictating to us what to do,” said Damm. “We do not want to be required to share our medical decisions with our employer or openly with other employees. We are your neighbors. We are just like you. We live or work in the City of Gainesville and we love Gainesville and we love Florida.”

     “Our first responders are heroes, running toward danger and risking their lives to save others,” said Congresswoman Kat Cammack (FL-03). “Their selfless service ensures our communities’ safety but requiring vaccinations or forcing our first responders out of their jobs does the exact opposite of protecting our citizens; instead, it disregards the very sacrifices these heroes make every single day,” said Cammack. “I’m proud to stand beside Governor DeSantis, AG Moody, CFO Patronis, and other local leaders in standing up to these unconstitutional, tyrannical government mandates. We will keep fighting to ensure every Floridian has the right to their own health decisions.”