The surgeon general of Florida, Dr Joseph Ladapo, said on Monday the state will formally recommend against Covid-19 vaccinations for healthy children.
Ladapo made the announcement at a roundtable event organized by the Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, that featured doctors who have criticized coronavirus lockdowns and mandate policies.
It was not immediately clear when the state would release its new guidance.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends “everyone ages five years and older get a Covid-19 vaccine to help protect against Covid-19”.
It adds: “Widespread vaccination for Covid-19 is a critical tool to best protect everyone from Covid-19 and Covid-19 related complications.”
The Florida state senate confirmed Ladapo as surgeon general despite criticism that his virus health policy is too aligned with the anti-lockdown and mandate politics of DeSantis.
Late last month, Ladapo and DeSantis announced new virus policy recommendations that discouraged mask-wearing and directed physicians to exercise judgment when treating virus patients, including the use of emerging treatments and off-label medications.
Last week, DeSantis made national headlines by rebuking college students in Tampa who provided a backdrop for a speech and who were wearing masks when he came to the podium.
At the end of the discussion in Tallahassee, Ladapo said: “The Florida department of health is going to be the first state to officially recommend against the Covid-19 vaccines for healthy children.
“We’re kind of scraping at the bottom of the barrel, particularly with healthy kids, in terms of actually being able to quantify with any accuracy and any confidence the even potential of benefit.”
The CDC says children aged between five and 11 should be vaccinated because “there have been nearly 2m cases of Covid-19 within this age group during the pandemic.
“Children who get Covid-19 can get very sick, require hospitalization, and even die. Also, younger school-aged children who get infected can spread Covid-19 to people in their households and school settings.
“With many children back in school and participating in extracurricular activities, Covid-19 vaccination is critical to preventing infection and serious illness, as well as slowing the spread of Covid-19.”