TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida's Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo announced Monday that Florida would become the first state to recommend against COVID-19 vaccines for healthy kids.
The announcement came at a roundtable titled "The Curtain Close on COVID Theater" that also featured Governor Ron DeSantis and several doctors who criticized coronavirus lockdowns and mandate policies via Zoom.
"The Florida Department of Health is going to be the first state to officially recommend against the COVID-19 vaccine for healthy children," Ladapo said.
Just prior to the announcement, Lapado pointed to a study released last week out of New York, suggesting that new data showed how quickly the vaccine's protection waned in children. The public health officials who conducted the study believe it may be due to the lower dosage they received.
An analysis of New York state data during the omicron surge found that Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine was less effective at preventing infections among children 5 to 11 compared to older children. This could be because children 5 to 11 receive a dose that is one-third the dose for children 12 and older. Crucially, the vaccine still dramatically reduced the risk of hospitalization among children 5 to 11. The researchers who led the study still strongly recommended Pfizer's vaccine for children 5 to 11.
"In the Omicron era, the effectiveness against cases of BNT162b2 declined rapidly for children, particularly those 5-11 years. However, vaccination of children 5-11 years was protective against severe disease and is recommended. These results highlight the potential need to study alternative vaccine dosing for children and the continued importance layered protections, including mask wearing, to prevent infection and transmission," the authors of the study said.
"Already the rates were low. So, 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 infinite potential of benefit," Ladapo said.
As of Monday, countless health groups, doctors, and experts recommended vaccines for children including:
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- U.S. Health and Human Services
- Johns Hopkins Medicine
- The World Health Organization
- American Academy of Pediatrics
The Florida Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (FCAAP) released the following statement:
White House Spokeswoman Jen Psaki was asked Monday about Ladapo's move and if it was good policy.
Absolutely not. We know the science. We know the data and what works and what the most effective steps are in a range of ages from hospitalization and even death. The FDA and CDC have already weighed in on the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine for those 5 and older. The recommendations are vetted transparently through a process, with the purpose that parents can have confidence, after consulting with their pediatrician or doctors if they would like about the safety. But we also know through the data that unvaccinated teenagers are three times as likely to be hospitalized if they get COVID than vaccinated teenagers. It's deeply disturbing that there are politicians peddling conspiracy theories out there and casting doubt on vaccinations when it's our best tool against the virus and our best tool to prevent even teenagers from being hospitalized.
The Florida Department of Health website does not currently list any new guidelines for kids and the COVID-19 vaccine.
Late last month, Ladapo and DeSantis announced new virus policy recommendations that discouraged mask-wearing and directed physicians to exercise their own judgment when treating virus patients, including the use of emerging treatments and off-label medications.