Florida challenges federal vaccine mandate for pre-K workers

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody joined 23 other states Tuesday in challenging a Biden administration rule that includes requiring workers at Head Start preschool programs to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

The states filed a 65-page lawsuit in the federal Western District of Louisiana. It raises a series of legal arguments to challenge the rule issued Nov. 30.

“The Head Start mandate applies to all preschool programs funded by the federal Head Start program, regulating hundreds of thousands of staff, volunteers, and preschool students nationwide,” the lawsuit said. “It forces vaccinations on staff, volunteers and others in contact with Head Start students and forces masks on everyone age 2 and up. It includes few exceptions, is projected to lead to tens of thousands of Head Start agency staff losing their jobs, and will cause programs to close or reduce capacity — achieving the very opposite result of its purported goal.”

The lawsuit is one of a series of challenges by Florida and other states to Biden administration COVID-19 rules. Other challenges involve vaccination requirements for health-care workers, employees of federal contractors and businesses with 100 workers or more. Biden, in comments Tuesday about the fast-spreading omicron variant of the coronavirus, repeatedly emphasized a need for Americans to get vaccinated.

“All these people who have not been vaccinated, you have an obligation to yourselves, to your family and, quite frankly — I know I’ll get criticized for this — to your country,” Biden said, according to a transcript released by the White House. “Get vaccinated now. It’s free. It’s convenient. I promise you, it saves lives. And I, honest to God, believe it’s your patriotic duty.”

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