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Florida’s Controversial COVID-19 Booster Policy: Deviating From Federal Guidelines

Examining Florida's unique COVID-19 booster policy for under-65s. The state's contentious stance raises critical questions about vaccine efficacy and safety.

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Rachel Greenberg
Rachel Greenberg
Rachel is a certified nutritionist and fitness coach with over 15 years of experience in supporting individuals in their journey towards wellness. She is passionate about holistic health, meal prep and encouraging others to embrace physical activity in all its forms.
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Florida’s gubernatorial administration, under the authority of Governor Ron DeSantis, has advised residents under the age of 65 against receiving the new COVID-19 boosters provided by Pfizer and Moderna. This approach significantly diverges from the federal guidelines, which are often adopted as the norm across states.

Dr. Joseph Ladapo, Florida’s State Surgeon General appointed by DeSantis, announced this during a digital seminar held by the governor’s administration. Based on his directive, those under 65 are not advised to get the mRNA vaccines typically used to prevent COVID-19.

Contrary Information from CDC Recommendations

Interrupting the conventional narrative, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advised that everyone older than six months who hasn’t received a COVID-19 shot within the past two months should get the new type of booster. They believe this strategy effectively targets the omicron subvariant, namely XBB.1.5.

CDC reinstated their emphasis on vaccination being the strongest weapon against COVID-19, related hospitalization, and the complications from long-term COVID. In stark contrast to Ladapo’s statements, they highlighted the proven safety and effectiveness of the vaccines.

CDC Vs Florida: A Budding Battle of Health Policies

Despite the CDC’s strong stance, Ladapo expressed his skepticism, focusing on questions surrounding vaccine safety and effectiveness. He urged the reconsideration of vaccine decisions, especially for young people and those not categorized as high-risk in the pandemic period.

Dr. Mandy Cohen, CDC’s director, responded by labeling Florida’s new approach as “dangerous”. She advised Americans to ensure to get an updated COVID-19 vaccine as fall and winter approach. Cohen assured that the vaccines are safe effective, and have undergone rigorous independent review by the FDA and CDC.

DeSantis’s Contentious Stance on COVID-19 Vaccines

Interestingly, the anti-vaccine opinion wasn’t always the narrative of DeSantis’s administration. In July 2021, he publicly acknowledged that the vaccines were saving lives. His attitude towards the vaccines drastically changed over time, subsequently forming a large part of his administration’s health care strategy. Ladapo, now one of the nation’s most recognizable vaccine skeptics, reflects this shift in stance.

Unproven Contention on mRNA Vaccines

The most recent mRNA vaccine boosters provided by Pfizer and Moderna are an updated technology. The United States has deployed hundreds of millions of doses of previous versions in over two and a half years without widespread safety issues.

The vaccines reportedly have a heightened risk of myocarditis, a heart muscle inflammation, among teen boys. Despite this, the CDC’s advisory committee maintained that the benefits of vaccination far outweigh this risk.

While Moderna demonstrated its new booster’s safety and elevated antibody protection in a human trial, Pfizer presented enhanced antibody response data from lab studies carried out on mice.

Florida’s Health Department voiced dissent, stating that the latest booster approval lacked meaningful booster-specific clinical trial data performed on humans.

Conclusion

Florida’s deviation from the norm incites a critical analysis of established federal guidelines and the principle of vaccine effectiveness. Whether this approach will have future repercussions or not remains to be seen. However, it certainly fuels a contentious debate surrounding the efficacy and safety of COVID-19 vaccines.

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