(The Center Square) – Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Tuesday new actions designed to hold the federal government and pharmaceutical companies accountable for decisions related to COVID-19 vaccines.
DeSantis will establish the Public Health Integrity Committee, overseen by the state’s surgeon general, to assess federal public health recommendations and guidance. The governor also petitioned the Florida Supreme Court to impanel a statewide grand jury to “investigate crimes and wrongdoing committed against Floridians related to the COVID-19 vaccine,” according to the announcement.
Further, the governor plans to look into sudden deaths of people who got a COVID-19 vaccine in Florida, based on autopsy results. The state will collaborate with the University of Florida to compare research with studies done in other countries.
“With these new actions, we will shed light on the forces that have obscured truthful communication about the COVID-19 vaccines,” Florida Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo said in a statement.
Ladapo will oversee the Public Health Integrity Committee, which will asess federal decisions, recommendations and guidance related to public health and health care.
“This has been a tremendously difficult time for everybody, but we are near the tail end of it and it is time to start taking stock of what went wrong and make reforms so this doesn’t happen again,” committee member Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, professor of health policy at Stanford University Medical School, said in a statement.
DeSantis filed a petition asking the state’s Supreme Court to put together a statewide grand jury to investigate issues around COVID-19 vaccines. The petition said that federal agencies, medical experts and others “created an expectation that receiving a COVID-19 vaccine is an ethical or civic duty and that choosing not to get vaccinated against COVID-19 is selfish and harmful to others.”
“It is impossible to imagine that so many influential individuals came to this view on their own,” according to the petition. “Rather, it is likely that individuals and companies with an incentive to do so created these perceptions for financial gain.”