March 7, 2022 -- Going against guidance from the CDC, Florida Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo said Monday that the state Department of Health will recommend healthy children not be vaccinated against COVID-19 because the benefits don’t warrant the risks.
Lapado cited a study from the New York State Department of Health which found the Pfizer vaccine’s effectiveness against hospitalizations and infections in children age 5-11 dropped sharply over six weeks, according to TV station WPTV.
"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, noting that Florida would be the first state to recommend against the vaccine for healthy kids.
Lapado spoke at a roundtable in West Palm Beach called to discuss “the failures of lockdowns and mandates in response to COVID-19,” according to a news release from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Florida Republican officials, led by DeSantis, have opposed vaccine and mask mandates during the pandemic.
“Over the past two years, the data has shown us what works and what doesn’t work. It is long past time to stop the COVID Theater,” DeSantis said in the release.
The CDC and most medical professionals, including the New York researchers who conducted the study, say the COVID vaccine remains essential to curb severe disease with the virus.
“The CDC recommends everyone ages 5 years and older get a COVID-19 vaccine to help protect against COVID-19," the agency says on its webpage.
Though children generally don’t get as sick from COVID as adults, the virus is still harmful to them. Since mid-October 2021, children 5-11 years old have accounted for more than 8,300 COVID-19 related hospitalizations and nearly 100 deaths from COVID-19, the CDC said.
Child health experts in Florida slammed Lapado, with Tallahassee pediatric cardiologist Louis St. Petery, MD, calling the announcement “totally crazy.”
“Vaccines are the way you control viral illnesses and this pandemic has been one of the worst viral illnesses, certainly in my lifetime…a recommendation that healthy children don't get vaccinated is not based on any scientific knowledge and makes absolutely no sense," St. Petery said, according to USA Today. "Hopefully the parents of the state of Florida will ignore it.”
The Pfizer vaccine is the only one authorized for children ages 5-11.