In a noteworthy defiance of federal health recommendations, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and the state’s top health department official, Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo, are cautioning against the administration of a new COVID-19 booster. Their stance is based on the argument that there is insufficient evidence to support the notion that the benefits of the booster outweigh the associated risks.
During a Zoom call livestreamed on X, formerly known as Twitter, DeSantis, who is currently running for president, and Ladapo engaged in a discussion with medical professionals on the topic of the vaccine. This event served as a reiteration of their previous warnings, which were issued during a live gathering in Jacksonville last week. Both officials expressed their reservations regarding the vaccine that has received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and a recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
It is worth noting that Ladapo’s earlier criticisms of COVID-19 vaccines garnered a public response from federal health agencies, who deemed his claims detrimental to the well-being of the public. In a joint letter signed by the FDA and CDC, the agencies emphasized the responsibility of public health officials to safeguard the lives of the populations they serve, particularly the vulnerable. The letter also highlighted that fostering vaccine hesitancy undermines the collective effort to protect public health. This concern is particularly pertinent given that Florida has one of the largest populations of senior citizens in the United States.
Ladapo, who holds a medical degree and a Ph.D. in health policy from Harvard University, assumed his role as Surgeon General after being appointed by Governor DeSantis in September 2021. Since then, he has attracted national attention due to his close alignment with the governor in opposing COVID-19 vaccine mandates and other health policies endorsed by the federal government.
Throughout his tenure in Florida, Ladapo’s guidance on COVID-19 has faced criticism from Democrats. Their concerns include his refusal to disclose whether he has personally received a vaccine. Moreover, at the height of the pandemic, Ladapo declined to wear a mask during a meeting with a Democratic senator who was undergoing cancer treatment. As a result, Senate Democrats staged a walkout during a confirmation hearing, accusing Ladapo of being evasive.
Governor DeSantis, addressing the ongoing controversy, stated that measures related to COVID-19 have become a contentious topic within society, and Florida has opted for a distinct approach.
Correction: It is important to clarify that the CDC recommended the vaccines, rather than approving them.
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