DeSantis warns of COVID booster as Florida leads the nation in hospitalizations

In raw numbers, that means about 2,280 people in Florida were hospitalized for COVID-related health problems. That’s a far cry from the peak of the pandemic, when the state was breaking nationwide records with more than 10,000 hospitalizations during the summer of 2021, but still a sign of a surge in cases.

Ladapo’s warning against taking the vaccine, announced during an online roundtable discussion hosted by DeSantis, follows the Surgeon General’s skepticism toward vaccines and goes against recommendations from the CDC, FDA and others in the medical community.

CDC Director Mandy Cohen, in response to Ladapo’s comments reducing the efficacy of boosters, stressed the importance of vaccination before winter and stressed that the vaccines are safe.

“Since this administration launched the largest adult vaccination program in our nation’s history, COVID-19 vaccines have saved millions of lives and kept countless more out of the hospital,” Cohen wrote. “Public health experts widely agree about these facts, and efforts to curtail vaccine access are baseless and dangerous.”

Florida Department of Health spokesman Jay Williams said LADAPO’s guidance speaks for itself, despite Florida leading the nation in hospitalizations.

,[Ladapo’s] They’re providing guidance based on the data they’ve seen, Williams said.

Williams also cited state reports showing a steady decline in COVID-19 infections across Florida. The rate of new infections was 16 percent in the week ending Sept. 9, down 4 percent from the previous week, the state reported.

A review of weekly DOH reports shows Florida saw a surge in COVID infections during August, similar to previous years during the pandemic when schools reopened after summer break.

However, it’s unclear how LADAPO’s guidance will impact Florida’s COVID situation. Michael Teng, a virologist and associate dean at the University of South Florida, said many of the Floridians hospitalized are 65 or older — the group the surgeon general did not advise against getting a booster. Teng said, in general, the elderly population should be more concerned about the virus and vaccination than younger people.

“If it were just about prioritizing older, higher-risk populations, that would be one thing,” Teng said in an interview. “But the surgeon general has actively gone and told people not to get the vaccine if you are under 65, even though the CDC has recommended it for everyone in the United States.”

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