Florida Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo said Monday that the state will formally recommend against COVID-19 vaccinations for healthy children. Ladapo made the announcement at a roundtable event organized by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis that featured a group of doctors who criticized coronavirus lockdowns and mandate policies, the AP reports. It was not immediately clear when the state would release its health guidance. "The Florida Department of Health is going to be the first state to officially recommend against the COVID-19 vaccines for healthy children,” Ladapo said at the end of the discussion.
"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,” he added. The move was Florida's latest break from White House coronavirus policy, as US health officials and approved of and encourage the use of a COVID-19 vaccine in children as young as 5. Vaccines have not been authorized for children under 5. DeSantis, who is running for reelection and is considered a potential 2024 presidential candidate, has risen to prominence in the GOP through his resistance to vaccine mandates and other public health guidance pushed by the federal government.
Late last month, Ladapo and DeSantis announced new 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. Ladapo cited a recent study from the New York State Department of Public Health, yet to be peer-reviewed, that found the vaccine's effectiveness at preventing hospitalizations among kids 5 to 11 dropped sharply in a six-week period, WPTV reports. The CDC, which says COVID is one of the top ten causes of death for children, recommends vaccination. (At an event last week, DeSantis told students to take their "ridiculous" masks off.)