Florida's Plan to Recommend Against COVID Vaccine for Kids Under Fire

Ralph Ellis

March 09, 2022

Editor's note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape's Coronavirus Resource Center.

Health experts across the nation spoke out against Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo after he said the state Department of Health will recommend healthy children not be vaccinated against COVID-19.

"The Surgeon General's comments today misrepresent the benefits of the vaccine, which has been proven to prevent serious illness, hospitalizations and long-term symptoms from COVID-19 in children and adolescents, including those who are otherwise healthy,” Lisa Gwynn, MD, president of the Florida chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, said in a statement.

"The evidence is clear that when people are vaccinated, they are significantly less likely to get very sick and need hospital care. There is widespread consensus among medical and public health experts about the life-saving benefits of this vaccine."

On Monday, Ladapo said the state Department of Health will recommend healthy children not be vaccinated against COVID-19 because the vaccine's benefits don't warrant the risks. Ladapo didn't say exactly when the state would officially take a position against the vaccine for children, CNN reported.

He spoke at a roundtable in West Palm Beach called to discuss “the failures of lockdowns and mandates in response to COVID-19.” Florida would be the first state to take a position against child vaccinations for COVID.

Paul Offit, MD, the director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, called Ladapo's statement "wholly irresponsible and completely unsupported."

"Although it is true that children are less likely to be infected and it is true that children are less likely to be severely infected, they can still be infected, and they can still be severely infected," Offit said on CNN

"What the Florida surgeon general didn't do was in any sense explain himself. What possible reason could he have for not giving this vaccine to children and putting them in a position where they have to suffer this disease?"

Ladapo cited a study from the New York State Department of Health which found the Pfizer vaccine's effectiveness against hospitalizations and infections in children aged 5-11 dropped sharply over six weeks.

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 FDA has authorized the Pfizer vaccine for children age 5 and older.

William Schaffner, MD, a professor in the division of infectious disease at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, joined the outcry against Ladapo.

"The benefits clearly outweigh the risks, and they provide us a firmer foundation for the control of Covid going forward," Schaffner said to CNN.

Sources:

Florida Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. “FCAAP Statement Regarding the COVID-19 Vaccine and Florida's Children”

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