‘Do not pay attention to the politics’: UF Health Jacksonville’s chief of pediatrics says ‘vaccines work’ for kids

Dr. Jeffrey Goldhagen, professor at UF college of medicine and a chief in the university's pediatrics division, joins us on The Morning Show with more on the proposal.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Health experts are quickly denouncing Florida’s plans to issue guidance urging parents not to vaccinate healthy children against COVID-19. They say the policy is dangerous for our children.

Florida is going to be the first state in the nation to recommend against healthy kids getting the COVID-19 vaccine. The rationale? State Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo said, “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.”

A majority of health officials nationwide call the move irresponsible and unsupported. They say it will put our children at risk and the decision makes no sense.

“We would like to plead with parents to listen to their doctors,” said Dr. Jeffrey Goldhagen, a professor of pediatrics at UF College of Medicine and the Chief of Pediatrics at UF Health Jacksonville. “Listen to the CDC. Listen to the American Academy of Pediatrics and do not pay attention to the politics that is unfolding here in Florida. Vaccines work.”

The CDC said the vaccines are safe and give children 5 years and older strong protection against hospitalization and death. The worry, according to health experts, is Florida’s move is going to confuse parents.

“There was a study that came out yesterday (Monday) that indicated that children who are vaccinated have eight times less chance of getting the disease,” said Goldhagen. “Children do get the disease. They do get sick from the disease. They get hospitalized from the disease. They die from the disease. And this policy will result in increased morbidity and mortality amongst children.”

When asked what he would counsel the parents who came to his office with questions about whether or not to waiver on the issue of vaccinating their child, given this new guidance from Florida, Goldhagen’s answer was unequivocal.

It’s protective of your children,” Goldhagen emphasized. “It will have no long-term effects. The risk of the disease is far worse than the vaccine and that it’s critically important to get their children vaccinated and to listen to their physicians. The risk of the disease is far worse than the than vaccines.”

Even the Florida chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ president, Dr. Lisa Gwynn, said, “the state surgeon general’s statements misrepresent the benefits of the vaccine which has proven to prevent serious illness.” She added the vaccine is the best hope for ending the pandemic.


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