Hollywood studio disallows payment for employees who refuse to vaccinate children on orders from governor’s office.
Disney on Monday suspended its policy of paying workers who refuse to vaccinate their children in Florida, days after the state’s governor ordered the suspension of a mandatory policy for schools that offered no alternatives to school-age children not vaccinated.
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The health department in Lake County, near Disney World in central Florida, last month ordered seven families to pay $112 each day to be kept out of the community until their children were immunized against common childhood diseases, such as measles, mumps and rubella.
Disney said its policy has been suspended, but declined to provide further details.
“We will continue to monitor the situation and take appropriate action,” the Disney company said in a statement.
Earlier this month, Florida governor Rick Scott ordered that the parents of children without a current medical exemption for a shot to prevent measles be held out of school or held for non-violation of the law for up to 45 days.
Disney said it had offered all families who opted out free transportation and home-based childcare as an alternative to the mandate that they pay the money to keep their children from attending school, but six families decided against it.
“In the interest of allowing the families to have a positive experience, we offered transportation to school and to childcare as well as transportation and childcare for a combined total of $102,000,” the company said in a statement.
However, both the church and county governments in the affected area have voiced their dismay.
“Clearly the policy wasn’t working,” said Alton Dortch, a spokesperson for the county’s health department. “A part of me hoped it wouldn’t come to this and it’s just sad for kids to be in that environment because parents didn’t think through this thing.”
After first instituting the policy last year, Disney initially said employees facing financial hardship could use their sick leave days or use vacation time to address the issue. The company’s policy was reviewed and then reinstated in late November, after what the company called “a thorough investigation of the situation”, and in January the policy was extended to anyone in the county who did not want their children vaccinated.
Disney eventually decided to suspend the policy after hearing that Scott ordered “indefinite” criminal penalties for families who do not immunize their children.
Dortch said that two families refused to leave Disney properties last week after Scott’s order.
“The governor’s office sent an email to Disney with a list of parents who’d been told to leave the property,” Dortch said. “They probably came to Disney three to four times before they finally left Disney.”