Florida Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo on Tuesday released guidance recommending against vaccinations for healthy children, contradicting federal public health leaders whose advice says all kids should get the shots.
The new state Department of Health guidance says healthy children ages 5 to 17 may not benefit from receiving the vaccine. Children with underlying health conditions or comorbidities should consider a COVID-19 vaccine in consultation with their healthcare provider, the guidance said.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends coronavirus vaccines for everyone 5 years and older, saying the shots provide strong protection against hospitalization and death. The Food and Drug Administration cleared the use of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine in children as young as 5 based on a study showing the child-size doses were 91% effective at preventing symptomatic COVID-19.
Ladapo previewed the guidance Monday during a roundtable discussion organized by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis where speakers criticized virus lockdowns and mandate policies.
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The American Academy of Pediatrics and its Florida chapter on Monday issued written statements reiterating support for vaccinating eligible children age 5 and older against COVID-19.
"Vaccines have the power to stop epidemics. Children make up a significant part of our population, and vaccinating children must be part of our strategy to control this virus so it cannot continue to spread." said Dr. Moira Szilagyi, the national group's president.
DeSantis, who is running for reelection and is considered to be a possible 2024 presidential candidate, has become popular in the GOP in part because of his opposition to federal public health rules on the coronavirus.
Last month, DeSantis and Ladapo announced health recommendations discouraging mask-wearing and directed physicians to exercise their own judgment when considering emerging treatments and off-label medications to treat virus patients.
Ladapo was confirmed as surgeon general by the GOP-controlled state Senate last month over Democratic concerns that his policies are too aligned with the governor's politics. DeSantis appointed Ladapo in September 2021.