(Trends Wide) — The Florida Department of Health will recommend against vaccinating healthy children against COVID-19, the state’s top public health official said Monday, putting the state at odds with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC, for its acronym in English) of the United States.
The CDC recommended that children be vaccinated in November 2021, when the vaccine became available to most children. Since then, about 22 million children have been fully vaccinated, including 1.1 million Florida children.
But Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo said the state will issue separate guidance urging parents not to vaccinate their children. Ladapo did not say when that guidance would become official and provided some additional details.
Florida would thus become the first state to break with the CDC when it comes to recommending vaccines for children.
Ladapo’s announcement came at the end of a 90-minute discussion between some of the medical community’s most vocal skeptics about pandemic mitigation measures. The event, hosted by Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, sharply criticized the CDC and governments that took steps to slow the spread of the virus through mask mandates and lockdown measures.
Several of the doctors and scientists on DeSantis’ panel shared unproven concerns about the vaccine’s safety for children.
Children vaccinated against covid-19 are less likely to be hospitalized for coronavirus infections than children who are not vaccinated, recent data shows.
Vaccinated elementary students are nearly half as likely to have a case of COVID-19 that referred to care at an urgent care clinic or emergency room compared to children who were not vaccinated, according to a CDC-funded study .
Almost 4.5 million children have had covid since the beginning of January alone.
Children infected with covid-19 can develop multisystem inflammatory syndrome weeks later. This rare disease can lead to dangerous complications, causing parts of the body to become inflamed. MIS-C can affect major organs, including the kidneys, brain, lungs, and heart.
The vaccine is not yet available for children under 5 years of age. About 25% of Florida’s eligible child population is vaccinated, compared to 30% nationally.
Ladapo has become a lightning rod for criticism since his appointment to head the Florida Department of Health last year. Ladapo came to the fore during the pandemic after writing a series of op-eds that challenged consensus scientific opinion on vaccines, masks and mitigation strategies. He has also pushed unproven therapies against Covid-19, such as ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine.
The Florida Senate confirmed Ladapo as the state’s chief health officer in February. During his confirmation hearings, he declined to say whether he had been vaccinated against Covid-19 and did not answer lawmakers’ questions about the effectiveness of vaccines.
Ladapo recently issued new guidance discouraging private companies from requiring their employees to wear masks.
Trends Wide’s Deidre McPhillips contributed to this report.