Florida governor Ron DeSantis is recommending state residents under the age of 65 avoid new Covid-19 booster shots created by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna, bucking recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
On Tuesday, the CDC, advised Americans six months and older who have not gotten a Covid-19 booster shot within the previous two months to get one a precautionary measure to protect against a new subvariant of the Omicron virus strain, XBB.1.5.
“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,” Florida’s surgeon general, Dr. Joseph Ladapo, said during an online panel hosted by the governor on Wednesday.
“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,” Ladapo added.
CDC director Many Cohen denounce Florida's position as “dangerous” in a joint statement with the White House.
"As we head into the fall and winter seasons, it is important that Americans get the updated COVID-19 vaccine," Cohen said. "They are proven safe; they are effective, and they have been thoroughly and independently reviewed by the [Food and Drug Administration] and CDC.”
“Since this Administration's launch of the largest adult vaccination program in our nation's history, COVID-19 vaccines have saved millions of lives and kept countless people out of the hospital. Public health experts are in broad agreement about these facts, and efforts to undercut vaccine uptake are unfounded and dangerous."
The FDA approved the latest shots on Monday, saying they have "met the agency's rigorous scientific standards for safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality."
Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, told NBC News the new shots represent a “low risk, low reward” payoff.
“You buy yourself a few months of protection against mild disease for a virus that doesn't have a clear seasonality yet,” Offit said, adding that young Americans who were previously vaccinated or had contracted coronavirus before, “should feel confident that you are well-protected against serious illness.”
DeSantis, who is far behind Donald Trump in most 2024 Republican presidential polls, has highlighted his handling of the pandemic in comparison to the former president. DeSantis has taken shots at Trump for relinquishing too much authority to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the former White House chief medical advisor, accusing him of jeopardizing American civil liberties.
"Once again, Florida is the first state in the nation to stand up and provide guidance based on truth, not Washington edicts," DeSantis said during Wednesday’s panel.
The governor pledged not to let federal health agencies "use healthy Floridians as guinea pigs for new booster shots that have not been proven to be safe or effective."
Florida Department of Health data show that Covid-19 cases are on the rise in the state.