Mar 7, 2022 - COVID

Florida surgeon general advises against kids' COVID vaccine

Dr Joseph Ladapo with his name on the screen underneath him
Screenshot: Governor Ron DeSantis/YouTube

Florida is about to be the first state to recommend healthy children ages 5-17 not get vaccinated against COVID-19.

What's happening: Florida surgeon general Dr. Joseph Ladapo made the announcement at the end of a roundtable β€” titled "The Curtain Close on COVID Theater" β€” hosted Monday by Gov. Ron DeSantis.

  • He cited recent studies that found waning efficacy of the vaccine for kids.

Why it matters: This directly contradicts the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which recommends the Pfizer vaccine for children 5-17.

  • The CDC has said the benefits of children getting the COVID-19 vaccine outweigh the known and potential risks of them contracting the virus without it, and that no serious safety concerns were identified when thousands of children participated in clinical trials for the vaccine.

Zoom in: The CDC ranked COVID-19 as one of the top 10 causes of death for children ages 5-11.

  • More than 804,000 Florida children under 16 have contracted COVID-19, and 42 of those children died, the Tampa Bay Times reports.
  • About 22% of Florida's 5-11 year olds have gotten at least one dose of the vaccine, per the Times.

What he's saying: "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 ... potential ... benefit," Ladapo said after making the announcement.

  • He referenced a study released last week from New York state that found vaccination prevented 76% of infections within two weeks of full vaccination for 12- to 17-year-olds, but just 56% of infections a month after vaccination. Protection against mild disease for children 5-11 fell from 65% to 12% by one month after vaccination.
  • The CDC also released a study last week that found the Pfizer vaccine didn't protect kids against Omicron infections but did seem to prevent serious disease.

Between the lines: Ladapo is an outspoken mask and vaccine skeptic who refuses to say whether he's been vaccinated.

What's next: After Ladapo makes the official recommendation, it's not clear if anything will change in vaccine procedures state-wide.

  • The Florida Department of Health did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment.
  • In response to Axios' request for comment, the CDC sent its recommendations.
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