Jacksonville immunologist: Plenty of data to suggest vaccine is safe & effective

Surgeon general says state will formally recommend against COVID vaccinations for healthy children

A nurse holds a vial of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 - 11, right, and a vial of the vaccine for adults, which have different colored labels. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis) (Rogelio V. Solis, Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo says the state will formally recommend against COVID-19 vaccinations for healthy children.

Ladapo made the announcement Monday at a roundtable event organized by 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.

“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.

During the meeting, Ladapo and the governor accused politicians and medical professionals of ignoring data and creating fear when pushing for lockdowns and vaccines.

“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,” Ladapo said during the event.

This move by the state would contradict recommendations by the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

We talked to Dr. Sunil Joshi, a Jacksonville immunologist, about the news.

“It is concerning because there is plenty of data out there to suggest that they’re not only safe, but they’re very, very effective,” Joshi said.

Joshi says the wrong message is being sent.

“When you hear comments like this, from authoritative figures, it just leads to more hesitancy from a population that may have not been sure they were going to receive the vaccine in the first place, when the fact of the matter is these vaccines have been very safe and very effective in preventing hospitalizations and deaths from this virus,” Joshi said.

The White House is also responding.

“It’s deeply disturbing that there are politicians peddling conspiracy theories out there and casting doubt on vaccinations when it is our best tool against the virus and the best tool to prevent even teenagers from being hospitalized,” said White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki.

DeSantis sending out this tweet Monday evening: “In Florida, we protect the rights of Floridians to make decisions for themselves and their children. We reject narratives and hysteria in favor of truth and data. There is no place in Florida for COVID theater.”

About the Authors:

Renee Beninate is a Florida native and award-winning reporter who joined the News4Jax team in June 2021.