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Florida Surgeon General advises against new COVID-19 booster for anyone under 65

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Florida Surgeon General advises against new COVID-19 booster for anyone under 65

Sep 13, 2023 | 3:06 pm ET
By Jackie Llanos
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Florida Surgeon General advises against new COVID-19 booster for anyone under 65
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Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo during a news conference with Gov. Ron DeSantis on Sept. 7, 2023. Source: Screenshot/DeSantis Facebook

Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo said during a live stream on Wednesday with Gov. Ron DeSantis that the state’s department of health would advise against the new COVID-19 booster for people under 65.

“What I have directed our department to do is to provide guidance that really recommends and advises against the use of these mRNA COVID-19 vaccines for anyone under 65, Ladapo said during the live stream.

“I just think that at this point with the amount of immunity that’s in the community, with virtually every walking human being having some degree of immunity, and the questions we have about safety and about effectiveness, especially about safety.

“My judgment is that it’s not a good decision for young people and for people who are not at high risk at this point in the pandemic. I think for people who are older, that’s really in Florida where we’re seeing impacts in terms of hospitalizations and deaths, unfortunately. But at the same time, when individuals who are older are making a decision about whether or not to take the booster, they should not be misled into thinking that there are clinical trials of the boosters that are indicating that they will benefit.”

The Florida Department of Health will release the new guidance later today, Ladapo said during the discussion hosted by DeSantis, which was streamed on X, Facebook and Rumble.

This announcement comes a day after the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control recommended that people older than six months should get the updated COVID-19 booster, which is set to become available later this week.

“I’m really excited about it,” Ladapo said. “I know that it is something that may be surprising to people who are hearing the CDC and the FDA say something very different, but take a look at it. Take a look at the fact that we are straight with people about data and about what is known and unknown, and that will help you make the decision that is best for you. ”

Defying federal guidance

In a press release after the live stream, DeSantis said: “I will not stand by and let the FDA and CDC use healthy Floridians as guinea pigs for new booster shots that have not been proven to be safe or effective. Once again, Florida is the first state in the nation to stand up and provide guidance based on truth, not Washington edicts.”

Meanwhile, COVID-19 hospitalizations in the state are rising. There were 2,536 hospitalizations in Florida in the last week of August, according to a CDC tracker. The rate of hospitalizations in Florida is higher than in other states. Also during the last week of August, the Florida Department of Health reported 23,960 new COVID-19 cases.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Monday approved the boosters made by Moderna and Pfizer. But throughout the live stream, DeSantis, Ladapo and other doctors who oppose the vaccine — Jay Bhattacharya, Tracy Høeg and Patrick Whelan — said the vaccine had a “negative efficacy” and questioned the validity of the data from the CDC.

Despite this claim from Ladapo, the CDC in its announcement on Tuesday said the updated booster lowered the likelihood of contracting long COVID.

Last week, DeSantis and Ladapo got together in Jacksonville to urge Americans to defy public health guidance related to the increase in COVID-19 cases.

At around 5 p.m., Ladapo shared the health department’s guidance on X, formerly known as Twitter. The three-page document highlighted “outstanding safety and efficacy concerns” of the updated shots. The document also stated that the department and Ladapo encourage Floridians to stay healthy by exercising and eating healthy food.

Florida Phoenix updated this story after the Florida Department of Health published the COVID-19 booster guidance.