It’s been nearly six months since Disney World began requiring that employees be vaccinated against hepatitis A before they were allowed access to the theme park’s food service facilities. Because Disney’s policy was created so that the Disney World Health team could focus on vaccinating high-risk individuals, the company’s parent company Walt Disney Co. did not get federal approval for the new rule.
Florida Governor Rick Scott ended months of controversy over the rule, which was meant to protect guests, on Monday when he signed a bill that ensures all people receiving food service service or operating a food truck across the state (whether they’re Disney employees or not) will be vaccinated against hepatitis A.
The new law also requires that any private vendors and restaurants in Florida have their employees fully vaccinated against the potentially fatal disease. When people are diagnosed with the illness, the response usually takes about two weeks. Like measles, hepatitis A is typically transmitted when people bring infected food or body fluids, such as feces, into a public place and/or don’t wash their hands properly.
Walt Disney decided to adopt the new policy after more than 130 people were infected last summer in what’s been dubbed “Disney measles” – the outbreak was spread on vacation to Disney World and Disneyland. Florida recorded its most outbreaks of the virus in 2014, when the virus killed one person and infected more than 527 people statewide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Whether Walt Disney had to wait for six months to see whether Florida’s new law would make it to become a reality is unclear, but by instituting the policy, the theme park seemed to be sending a message to the Legislature that they had their back and that everyone’s safety was more important than politicking and politics.
During a press conference on Monday, Governor Scott said that even with the bill, however, his priority was still to protect visitors from contracting the virus by requiring employees to get vaccinated, reported The Washington Post.
Florida’s health department issued a statement Tuesday evening. “We applaud Governor Scott for signing this important bill that protects Floridians across the state,” it said. “The new law will help prevent more people from getting hepatitis A by eliminating the potential source of infection among restaurant workers.”