Florida to buck CDC, discourage COVID vaccines for healthy kids

Dr. Joseph Ladapo makes announcement alongside Gov. Ron DeSantis

FILE - Medical personnel vaccinate students at a school in New Orleans on Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2022. (AP Photo/Ted Jackson, File) (Ted Jackson, Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

ORLANDO, Fla. – Florida Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo said Monday that the state will formally recommend against COVID-19 vaccinations for healthy children.

Ladapo made the announcement at a roundtable event organized by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis that featured a group of doctors who criticized coronavirus lockdowns and mandate policies. It was not immediately clear when the state would release its health guidance.

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“The Florida Department of Health is going to be the first state to officially recommend against the COVID-19 vaccines for healthy children,” Ladapo said at the end of the roundtable discussion.

“We’re kind of scraping at the bottom of the barrel, particularly with healthy kids, in terms of actually being able to quantify with any accuracy and any confidence the even potential of benefit,” he added.

Currently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends allowing children 5 years of age or older to get the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Roughly 9.58 million children 5 to 11 years old have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

In Florida, 372,536 children ages 5 to 11 have been vaccinated, according to the Florida Department of Health, and there have been 368,718 COVID cases in the same age group since the start of the pandemic, officials said.

The CDC says there have been 4.38 million cases of COVID-19 in children ages 5 to 11 in the U.S.

While the risk of death may be low, children who get COVID-19 can develop lasting health complications, the CDC says. They can also develop multisystem inflammatory syndrome, a condition where different body parts can become inflamed.

The CDC also points out the clinical trials on the COVID-19 vaccine were conducted on thousands of children before it received emergency authorization from the FDA. They say no serious safety concerns were identified.

We have reached out to the CDC and to school districts in Central Florida and will report back on their responses. Many school districts have set up events to help children get vaccinated.

Late last month, Ladapo and DeSantis announced new virus policy recommendations that discouraged mask-wearing and directed physicians to exercise their own judgment when treating virus patients, including the use of emerging treatments and off-label medications.

Gov. DeSantis was criticized last week after video showed him admonishing a group of students who were wearing masks before a news conference at the University of South Florida. DeSantis said they were going to stop “this COVID theater” and that wearing them was ridiculous.

The Florida state Senate confirmed Ladapo as surgeon general despite criticism that his virus health policy is too aligned with the anti-lockdown and mandate politics of DeSantis.

About the Authors:

Christie joined the ClickOrlando team in November 2021.