In an unprecedented move, Florida health authorities are preparing to recommend against giving healthy children the COVID-19 vaccine.
Joseph Ladapo, the state’s anti-mask, vax-skeptic surgeon general, made the announcement on Monday at a roundtable discussion with representatives from the Florida Department of Health and state politicians, including Gov. Ron DeSantis.
The meeting, titled “The Curtain Closes on Covid Theater,” was organized by DeSantis to evaluate the efficacy of the state’s COVID-19 guidelines, like mask and vaccine mandates.
The state will become the first in the country to officially and actively discourage vaccinating children, going against the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for kids aged 5 to 17.
The Tampa Bay Times reports that, of the 804,000 Florida children under 16 who got COVID, 42 died. About a fifth of the state’s children aged between 5 and 11 have had at least one COVID vaccination shot.
Peter J. Hotez, co-director of the Texas Children’s Center for Vaccine Development, described Ladapo’s comments on Monday as “extremely reckless.”
“The science clearly demonstrates the benefits of vaccinating children—both older children and adolescents, and younger children,” Hotez, also a professor of pediatrics, molecular virology and microbiology at Baylor College of Medicine, told The Daily Beast.
“About 1,000 kids have died from COVID-19 and most of the hospitalizations have occurred with the most recent waves of Delta and Omicron. In addition, we also know from studies… that about one in seven children are developing long-haul COVID signs and symptoms. So for all of these reasons, there’s strong agreement in the medical community and by the Centers for Disease Control and the FDA to recommend vaccinating kids.”