A few dozen Walt Disney World employees in Lake Buena Vista, Florida gathered on Friday afternoon outside the entertainment complex's shopping center to express their disapproval over the company's vaccine mandate. The protest was organized by cast member Nick Caturano, a 16 year old who hoped that the small demonstration would start a nationwide discussion on a person's medical privacy and their constitutional rights.
"People are free to get this vaccine if they feel it's going to be the best thing for them, but to force people to get the vaccine, that's another story," Caturano told the Miami Herald. The 16 year old Disney employee said he received thousands of emails from the company's cast members from all around the world who said they were afraid of speaking up and did not even know who to trust,
Caturano shared that some cast members even expressed fear over losing their jobs. One Disney employee even approached Caturano to thank him for speaking out on behalf of all of those cast members and workers who were against Disney's vaccine mandate, but retreated when he saw the media and crew with their cameras approaching.
"I don't want to lose my job," the Disney worker told Caturano. "I love my job, but I'm also more afraid that if I don't speak up now, where does it stop?"
Faithwire reported that while Caturano is considered immunocompromised and may be at higher risk for contracting COVID, he felt hesitant getting the jab due to his natural immunity and his religious beliefs. The young Disney worker and protester admitted that he is "not comfortable" getting the COVID vaccine.
"I just can't see putting it in my body," Caturano admitted. In a separate conversation with WOFL-TV, the 16 year old said that he and his fellow Disney workers "understand that COVID-19 is a very real health concern that we all have to take seriously, but many cast members have a legitimate basis for refusing vaccination."
Caturano said he organized the Friday protest because a lot of his fellow Disney workers "felt alone and felt like they were the only ones who thought this was wrong." He added that they "were made to feel that way on purpose. But we have connected now, and we are pushing back."
— Valerie Boey FOX 35 (@vboey) September 17, 2021
The protest is a result of Disney's vaccine mandate, which was announced last month, when the company reached an agreement with its unions to require the COVID vaccine for unionized cast members.
A month later, Disney's vaccine mandates were revised to apply to all its salaried and non-union hourly staffers in the U.S. Union workers now have until October 22 to get two shots of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Last week, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis fired back at the Biden administration and threatened to fine local governments if they force their employees to get the COVID vaccine, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported. The Florida governor also accused President Joe Biden of launching "overreaching" programs through vaccine mandates that are "very intrusive" and "illegal."
Gov. DeSantis declared, "Nobody should lose their job over this issue. This is political. It's about using government power to control. We're going to protect these jobs, we're going to protect livelihoods and we're going to protect families."