Florida contradicts CDC, says COVID-19 vaccine 'risks...may outweigh benefits' for some kids

The Florida Department of Health says some children may not benefit from COVID-19 vaccines, contradicting guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

According to the CDC, "the COVID-19 vaccine for children is safe and effective. It has undergone rigorous review, and now has been authorized by FDA and recommended by CDC for children between the ages of 5 to 11 years, after thorough testing for safety in thousands of children."

The Florida Department of Health, however, says, "based on currently available data, healthy children aged 5 to 17 may not benefit from receiving the currently available COVID-19 vaccine." 

In its document titled "Guidance for Pediatric COVID-19 Vaccines." the Florida Department of Health says, "there are certain risks to consider [associated with vaccination] that may outweigh benefits among healthy children with no underlying conditions," but then provides a link to a study that says, "A Covid-19 vaccination regimen… was found to be safe, immunogenic, and efficacious in children 5 to 11 years of age."

It's unclear if the provided link was intended to contradict the state health agency's own guidance. 

The FL-DoH guidance document also says, "In clinical trials, higher than anticipated serious adverse events occurred among those receiving the COVID-19 vaccine." The document does not provide links or references to the clinical trials.

On Monday, Florida Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo announced the state would make the policy changes at the end of a roundtable discussion with Gov. Ron DeSantis held in West Palm Beach.

"The Florida Department of Health is going to be the first state to officially recommend against the COVID-19 vaccines for healthy children," he said, without giving further details. "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."

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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 their own judgment when treating virus patients, including the use of emerging treatments and off-label medications.