WASHINGTON — Florida’s top health official said Monday he would advise healthy children not to get the coronavirus vaccine, contradicting both medical expertise and the recommendation of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
dr. Joseph Ladapo, the state’s controversial surgeon general, made the surprising announcement at the end of a roundtable he co-hosted with Governor Ron DeSantis to discuss what the governor’s office described as “Failure of Lockdowns and Mandates.” .
“The Florida Department of Health will be the first state to officially discourage COVID-19 vaccines for healthy children,” Ladapo said.
Neither Ladapo nor DeSantis have provided details. Also, no details were available from the Florida Department of Health that Ladapo leads since September†
While Ladapo didn’t say how he defined “healthy children,” he was presumably referring to children between the ages of 5 and 12. millions of whom have been vaccinated since the federal government considered that cohort for immunization late last fall. The vaccine could help some adolescent boys at risk of a heart condition known as myocarditisbut in general, the benefits of protecting against COVID-19 are considered far greater than any risk.
“This is completely against the advice of the CDC, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and other medical and public health experts,” Dr. Leana Wen, a professor of public health at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University, told Yahoo News in a text message about Florida’s decision. “Healthy children can and have become very ill. Vaccines are safe and reduce the risk of serious diseases.”
The CDC recommends vaccination for everyone from 5 yearsas a necessary means of preventing COVID-19 disease — which can affect children, although they are generally less susceptible than adults — and curb the spread of the virus to more vulnerable populations.
“While children are generally less at risk of serious consequences from COVID-19,” Washington, DC, doctor Lucy McBride told Yahoo News When children first became eligible for vaccination last year, “there have been children who have become very sick, tragically children have died from COVID, and getting the vaccine is a lot safer than getting COVID-19.” .”
The Biden administration reacted sharply to the development. “It is deeply disturbing that there are politicians spreading conspiracy theories and questioning vaccinations when this is our best cure against the virus,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at a briefing Monday afternoon.
Ian Sams, a spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services, noticed on Twitter that unvaccinated teens are much more likely to end up in hospital with COVID-19 than vaccinated ones. “It’s really dangerous for political figures — especially a state health official — to push anti-vaxxer conspiracies that endanger children,” Sams said.
More than 71,000 people have died in Florida, and DeSantis long downplayed vaccines and other effective mitigation measures such as masks. Last week he was seen on camera berating local students for wearing masks at an event where they would be behind him. Since then, DeSantis has sent several e-mails to raise money related to the confrontation, depicting him as a victim.
It’s unclear why Ladapo chose this moment to go against the CDC recommendation to vaccinate children, though political considerations may have something to do with it. The Republican base has been steadfast against vaccine mandates, and DeSantis is thought to be seriously considering a 2024 presidential campaign.
DeSantis has also declined to say whether he has received a booster shot, sparking high-profile criticism from former President Donald Trump, a potential rival in the 2024 primaries. During his recent confirmation hearing, Ladapo declined to say whether the coronavirus vaccines workdespite an abundance of evidence that they prevent serious and critical illness.