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Miami Herald hits DeSantis on vaccine claims: ‘Profile in selfishness’

The Miami Herald on Tuesday published an editorial piece blasting Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) for not encouraging vaccine administration in the state and for his comments saying that immunization only impacts the individual and not the community.

“It’s about your health and whether you want that protection or not. It really doesn’t impact me or anyone else,” DeSantis said last week, which the Herald’s editorial board commented on in an editorial piece.

“Doesn’t impact anyone else? Talk about a profile in selfishness,” the Herald board wrote. “Almost 46,000 have died of COVID in his state since the pandemic began. Too bad we can’t ask the thousands who have died since vaccines became available if they wished everyone around them had gotten vaccinated.”

In their piece, the board reiterated what medical experts have said throughout the pandemic: Getting vaccinated not only protects the individual who gets immunized, but also those around them.

“Yes, there are breakthrough cases, when vaccinated people still become infected. And, yes, there are some legitimate medical and religious reasons for not getting vaccinated,” the Herald noted. “But by all others getting the vaccine, you cut down on the chances that you’ll get COVID and then pass it on to others.”

Specifically, the Herald pointed to the impact that the prolonged pandemic is having on medical workers, who were initially hailed as heroes at the start of the pandemic, but now are the recipients of derision for promoting pandemic mitigation measures.

“Imagine the emotional toll — the feelings of powerlessness and frustration — for healthcare workers who are seeing people die day after day knowing so many of the deaths could have been prevented with a free, widely available shot,” wrote the Herald.

When reached for comment by The Hill, a spokesperson for DeSantis’s office pushed back on the newspaper’s criticisms, pointing to Florida’s vaccination rate — 65 percent of its eligible population with at least one dose.

They also argued that DeSantis’s remarks on vaccinations were scientifically accurate, as fully vaccinated individuals are still capable of contracting and spreading COVID-19.

“The collectivist argument that ‘my vaccine protects you’, if ‘you’ are unvaccinated, is not based in reality. It is irresponsible and unethical to mislead the public about that,” the spokesperson said. “More people would likely get vaccinated if all health authorities were honest about the fact that other people’s vaccinations do not protect unvaccinated people.”

Health experts and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have stated that fully vaccinated people with breakthrough cases are less likely to spread the virus than the unvaccinated due to lower amounts of detectable virus in their nasopharynx.

Communities with high vaccination rates have been shown to have lower pediatric hospitalization rates than those with lower rates, according to the CDC, indicating that vaccinations reduce community spread and thus reduce the amount of severe cases of COVID-19.

Florida is among the states most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S. Like a number of GOP governors, DeSantis has moved to block local communities and school boards from enacting mask mandates as cases continue to rise due to the most recent surge. 

According to the Johns Hopkins University COVID-19 tracker, Florida has confirmed more than 3.3 million COVID-19 cases so far and more than 46,000 related deaths. The state currently has a seven-day average of over 32,000 cases according to Johns Hopkins.

The state currently has a testing positivity rate of 14.15 percent. Around 55 percent of Florida’s population is fully vaccinated.

Updated Sept. 8, 12:45 p.m.

Tags COVID-19 vaccine Florida Miami Herald Ron DeSantis Ron DeSantis

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