Experts push back against Florida’s surgeon general vaccine advice

Joseph Ladapo cited a Florida Department of Health study that showed an 84% rise in cardiac-related mortality among men between 18 and 39 within 28 days of receiving an mRNA vaccination as his reasoning.

Experts in the medical community disapprove of Florida’s surgeon general advising men against receiving COVID-19 shots, asserting that doing so increases the chance of cardiac-related death.

According to Politico, Joseph Ladapo advised men not to get the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines. He cited as the reason a Florida Department of Health study that showed an 84% rise in cardiac-related mortality among men between 18 and 39 within 28 days of receiving an mRNA vaccination.

“I absolutely believe that’s the correct guidance,” said Ladapo, Politico reported.

Joseph Ladapo
Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo’s advice to men not to take COVID-19 vaccines has drawn criticism from some researchers and health professionals. (Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/Sipa USA/AP Images)

Ladapo said he stands by the study’s findings — mainly because he thinks that many individuals now possess innate immunity to the virus — but other healthcare professionals and researchers disagree.

Daniel Salmon, head of the Institute for Vaccine Safety at Johns Hopkins University, said Ladapo’s suggestions counter guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). He pointed out that the Florida department of health report has no listed authors and a respectable medical journal would never publish it because of its lack of detail.

“It looks to me like this is politics driving science,” he said. “And the result is you get terrible science.”

Sarah Lovenheim, assistant secretary for public affairs at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, criticized Ladapo’s analysis as flawed and far from scientific. She pointed out that COVID-19 vaccines have proved safe and effective and that severe adverse reactions are rare.

Ladapo has also raised concerns about the vaccine in the past. He and 20 other health professionals petitioned the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in June 2021 — before Gov. Ron DeSantis named him the state’s surgeon general — to refrain from a hasty authorization of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. He’s also said children should not be vaccinated.

Ladapo said his most recent recommendations only apply to the pandemic as it exists now, not to the overall scope of the outbreak.

“And I wouldn’t have given that guidance, because I don’t know the answer to that would have required much more thought,” he said. “But at this point in the pandemic, with the degree of immunity in Florida, the calculus was much simpler.”

Jason Salemi, an associate professor of epidemiology at the University of South Florida College of Public Health, said he tries to present a fair analysis of the advantages and disadvantages of immunization and he doesn’t see how Ladapo’s advice fits into that.

“I just cannot fathom a group of epidemiologists who would perform an investigation, looking at the risks of vaccination, and not also have performed an analysis that looked at the risks associated with the infection itself,” Salemi said, Politico reported.

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