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Florida surgeon general opposes CDC's COVID vaccine recommendation

Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo said those under age 65 shouldn't get the shot, but the CDC said the benefits outweigh the risks.
Florida surgeon general opposes CDC's COVID vaccine recommendation
Posted at 9:32 AM, Sep 14, 2023

Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo disagreed with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's new recommendation that most Americans get an updated COVID-19 shot this fall. 

Ladapo, who was appointed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, claimed the new COVID vaccines are not backed by clinical evidence. 

"The American people deserve the truth, but the Biden admin only wants to control your behavior," Ladapo said. 

Ladapo's claims were echoed by DeSantis. 

"Dr. Ladapo is advising caution regarding the use of the hastily-approved mRNA COVID boosters," DeSantis said on his official state X account. "We will not stand by and let the FDA and CDC use Floridians as guinea pigs for mRNA jabs that have not been proven to be safe or effective."

The new recommendations were issued by the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, which includes 15 research doctors from a variety of fields, including pediatrics and epidemiology. Nine of the group's 15 members were appointed during the Trump administration. 

The committee voted 13-1 on Tuesday to accept the new recommendations.

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Ladapo issued his own recommendation, saying those under age 65 should not get the updated vaccine, and those over age 65 should discuss the vaccine with a medical professional before getting a shot. 

The CDC recommended that almost everyone over 6 months old get an updated vaccine. The agency added that last year's bivalent COVID-19 booster helped reduce COVID-related hospital admissions among all age groups. 

While officials have acknowledged the newly updated vaccine could have side effects, they say benefits far outweigh the risks. One risk the CDC noted was cardiac complications among 12-to-17-year-olds. However, the CDC said that the risk of cardiac complications, including myocarditis, was 1.8 times to 5.6 times higher after COVID-19 infection than after COVID-19 vaccination.

"The side effects that we can expect to see are very similar to what we saw previously with the other COVID vaccines," said Dr. Kristin Englund, an infectious disease specialist with the Cleveland Clinic. "So, if you had a sore arm before, if you had a little bit of some achiness, maybe a little low-grade fever, you can expect that to happen again."

The new vaccines are intended to provide protection against the most recent variants of the virus. Last year's bivalent COVID-19 booster is now considered obsolete and off the market. 

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As of May 10, some eight months after the previous bivalent vaccine was released, only 17% of the U.S. population had received the updated shot, the CDC said. The vaccine got its strongest response from seniors as 43% of those over age 65 got the updated shot. 

The process for reviewing the new COVID-19 vaccine is similar to the standard practice used to approve the annual flu vaccine.

"The updated vaccines are expected to provide good protection against COVID-19 from the currently circulating variants," the FDA said. "Barring the emergence of a markedly more virulent variant, the FDA anticipates that the composition of COVID-19 vaccines may need to be updated annually, as is done for the seasonal influenza vaccine."

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