Florida becomes first state to buck CDC, will recommend against vaccines for children

The announcement comes just days after the state's governor scolded high school kids for wearing masks

By Jon Skolnik

Published March 8, 2022 11:41AM (EST)

Ron DeSantis and Joseph Ladapo (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)
Ron DeSantis and Joseph Ladapo (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)

The Florida Department of Health will recommend that healthy children in the Sunshine State do not receive the vaccine, according to the state's newly-appointed surgeon general. 

"The Florida Department of Health is going to be the first state to officially recommend against the Covid-19 vaccines for healthy children," Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo said during a Monday roundtable with experts, all of whom shared skepticism around the efficacy of common sense Covid health precautions. 

RELATED: Florida's new surgeon general, Dr. Joseph Ladapo, has ties to fringe group pushing bogus COVID cures

If issued, the recommendation would run in direct opposition to federal guidance that's been provided by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), which back in November recommended that all children get vaccinated. According to CNN, 1.1 million kids in Florida have already done so. The specifics around the agency's soon-to-be guidance remains unclear, but Ladapo noted that Florida's would be the first recommendation of its kind. 

The announcement comes amid the Republican governor's long-running campaign to delegitimize the value of masks and vaccine mandates. 


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During a press conference last week, DeSantis scolded a group of high school students for wearing masks to protect themselves against the virus. 

"You do not have to wear those masks. Please take them off. Honestly, it's not doing anything," he chided them. "We've got to stop with this covid theater. So if you want to wear it, fine, but this is ridiculous."

RELATED: CDC director rebukes Ron DeSantis for scolding high school students over masks

Last year, as cases in Florida climbed, the governor also prohibited schools and private businesses from instituting mask and vaccine requirements, even though children under the age of twelve did not qualify for vaccines at the time. 

Ladapo, appointed by DeSantis, has likewise repeatedly cast doubt over the efficacy of the masks, even when they've been widely proven as effective in preventing the spread of the virus.

On Monday, Nikki Fried, Florida's agriculture commissioner, blasted the Florida Department of Health's impending guidance, arguing that the governor and Ladapo "are once again confusing Floridians by promoting dangerous COVID-19 misinformation that goes against all mainstream medical guidance."

"I urge all Floridians to continue to follow the COVID-19 guidance provided by their doctors, in addition to the FDA and the CDC, and not the anti-science conspiracy theories DeSantis and Ladapo are pushing,' she added in a statement.  

According to state data, over 804,000 Florida children younger than 16 have contracted COVID-19 throughout the pandemic, and roughly 70,000 total residents in the state have died due to coronavirus. 


Jon Skolnik

Jon Skolnik is a staff writer at Salon. His work has appeared in Current Affairs, The Baffler, and The New York Daily News.

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Cdc Coronavirus Covid-19 Florida Joseph Ladapo Vaccine Efficacy Vaccines