Healthcare

Florida to advise against COVID-19 vaccine for healthy kids, contradicting CDC

Florida’s Department of Health will recommend against coronavirus vaccination for “healthy children,” the state’s surgeon general said Monday, contradicting the guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other experts.

Florida “is going to be the first state to officially recommend against the COVID-19 vaccines for healthy children,” state surgeon general Joseph Ladapo said at the end of a roundtable discussion on the virus response. 

Ladapo did not provide details such as who would qualify as a healthy child, or go into the reasoning for his decision.  

The move is an escalation in the divide of Florida’s pandemic response under Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) from that of national experts.  

The CDC recommends that everyone aged 5 and older get the coronavirus vaccine. Existing vaccines are not yet approved for those younger than 5.

While COVID-19 is generally worse in older age groups, the CDC noted that as of mid-October 2021, there were “more than 8,300 COVID-19 related hospitalizations and nearly 100 deaths from COVID-19″ among children 5-11, and the coronavirus is one of the top 10 causes of death in that age group.  

Getting the vaccine helps prevent children from getting seriously ill with the virus if they do contract it and also protects people of other ages in the surrounding community, the CDC noted.  

“Before recommending COVID-19 vaccination for children, scientists conducted clinical trials with thousands of children and no serious safety concerns were identified,” the CDC adds.  

The American Academy of Pediatrics also recommends that children get vaccinated.  

“Vaccinating children will protect children’s health and allow them to fully engage in all of the activities that are so important to their health and development,” the group said last fall when the vaccines were authorized for children 5-11.  

Later Monday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki was asked during a press briefing if the Biden administration considers Florida’s move sound policy.

“Absolutely not,” Psaki replied. “Let me just note that we know the science. We know the data and what works and what the most effective steps are in protecting people of a range of ages from hospitalization and even death. The FDA and CDC have already weighed in on the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines for those 5 and older,” she said.

She added research shows “that unvaccinated teenagers are three times as likely to get COVID” compared to vaccinated ones.

Ladapo, a DeSantis appointee, has frequently drawn controversy for questioning the effectiveness of vaccines, and previously declined to say if he himself was vaccinated.  

DeSantis, seen as a rising GOP star, also previously declined to say if he received the vaccine booster shot.  

The CDC noted that there have been “rare” instances of myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart in adolescents aged 12-17 after COVID-19 vaccination, but the rates are about 54 cases per million doses in that age group after receiving the Pfizer vaccine.  

“The benefits of COVID-19 vaccination outweigh the known and potential risks. Get a COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 years and older as soon as you can,” the CDC said.  

DeSantis was sitting next to Ladapo as he made the announcement on Monday. The governor added that there has been “a failure to weigh costs and benefits, whether that’s lockdowns, whether that’s school closures, or whether that’s even something about whether a healthy seven-year-old kid should get the COVID vaccines.” 

—Updated at 3:02 p.m.

Tags Coronavirus coronavirus pandemic coronavirus vaccine COVID-19 vaccination in the United States COVID-19 vaccine Florida Jen Psaki Joseph Ladapo Ron DeSantis Vaccine hesitancy
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