Florida to Defy CDC by Recommending Against COVID Shots for Kids

Florida surgeon general Joseph Ladapo (left) and Florida governor Ron DeSantis. Photo: Joe Cavaretta/Sun Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Florida surgeon general Dr. Joseph Ladapo announced Monday that the state will soon advise that healthy children should not be vaccinated against COVID-19, defying the guidance from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Ladapo, who has questioned the safety of vaccines in the past, announced the policy change toward the end of a panel featuring Florida governor Ron DeSantis called “The Curtain Close on COVID Theater.” During the 90-minute conversation, Ladapo suggested that the efficacy of vaccines in children is limited despite studies proving that vaccines protect against severe cases and hospitalization in children over the age of 5. “We’re kind of scraping at the bottom of the barrel, particularly with healthy kids,” Ladapo said. He did not detail which age groups would be included in the state’s advisory.

In response to the measure — the first state to defy CDC recommendations for COVID shots for kids — White House press secretary Jen Psaki said it is “deeply disturbing that there are politicians peddling conspiracy theories out there and casting doubt on vaccination when it is our best tool against the virus and the best tool to prevent even teenagers from being hospitalized.” In Florida, where more than 70,000 people have died from COVID, just over 22 percent of kids age 5 to 11 have received the vaccine. While younger people are significantly less likely to die from COVID than older Americans, the CDC notes that the virus is one of the top ten causes of death for children age 5 to 11.

Ladapo, who received an M.D. and Ph.D from Harvard, has defended his support of a group known as America’s Frontline Doctors, which has described the COVID shot as “experimental” and discouraged people under 50 from opting in to receive it. The group’s founder, Simone Gold, was arrested in February 2021 for storming the Capitol on January 6. Ladapo was appointed to the position in September 2021 by DeSantis, who has made vaccine skepticism a major platform of his ascendent political career.

Florida to Defy CDC, Recommend Against COVID Shots for Kids