DeSantis, Florida surgeon general stand against CDC's new COVID vaccine recommendations

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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis reset his sights on an old target Wednesday as he advised Floridians under the age of 65 against adhering to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s updated COVID-19 vaccine guidance.

The CDC recommended Tuesday that all Americans aged 6 months and older to receive updated COVID-19 boosters made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna that target currently circulating variants related to XBB.

“I will not stand by and let the FDA and CDC use healthy Floridians as guinea pigs for new booster shots that have not been proven to be safe or effective,” the governor said in a statement Wednesday. “Once again, Florida is the first state in the nation to stand up and provide guidance based on truth, not Washington edicts.”

Meanwhile, new COVID-19 cases in Florida have increased 227% in the past 10 weeks, according to the Florida Department of Health’s latest numbers published on Sept. 1.

Why Florida stands against new COVID-19 vaccine recommendations

Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo said Wednesday that state health officials will recommend against anyone under the age of 65 getting the new COVID-19 vaccine boosters recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

Ladapo was joined by DeSantis on the panel that also included Stanford University Health Policy Professor Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, a prominent COVID contrarian who frequently has participated in events organized by the governor, and two other physicians.

Florida contradicts new COVID guidance: Florida health officials say most people shouldn't get new COVID shot, contradicting CDC

The panelists raised a number of concerns about the new shots.

“At this point with the amount of immunity that’s in the community … and the questions we have about safety and about effectiveness, but especially about safety, my judgment is that it’s not a good decision for young people and for people who are not at high risk at this point in the pandemic,” Ladapo said of getting an updated vaccine shot.

Bhattacharya said he supports that recommendation.

“You’re gonna hear, I think, from American public health a lot of outcry over the guidance but I think they should be asked: What data are they relying on?” Bhattacharya said.

Why the CDC updated its COVID-19 vaccine recommendations

The CDC website says the updated or “bivalent” vaccines protect “against both the original virus that causes COVID-19 and the Omicron variant BA.4 and BA.5.”

The CDC said Tuesday that vaccination is the best way to prevent COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths and to help people reduce chances of suffering from what is known as “long COVID.”

“The virus that causes COVID-19 is always changing, and protection from COVID-19 vaccines declines over time,” the CDC said on its website. “Receiving an updated COVID-19 vaccine can restore protection and provide enhanced protection against the variants currently responsible for most infections and hospitalizations in the United States.”

Federal officials say the new vaccines are safe and effective.

“The FDA is confident in the safety and effectiveness of these updated vaccines, and the agency’s benefit-risk assessment demonstrates that the benefits of these vaccines for individuals 6 months of age and older outweigh the risks,” the FDA said Monday in information posted on its website.

Latest COVID-19 vaccine guidance

Here are the latest COVID-19 vaccine recommendations to ensure you’re up to date:

  • Everyone aged 6 years and older: Should get one updated Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to be up to date.

  • People aged 65 years and older: May get a second dose of the updated Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.

  • People who are moderately or severely immunocompromised: May get additional doses of the updated Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.

  • Children aged 6 months to 5 years: May need multiple doses of COVID-19 vaccine to be up to date, including at least one dose of updated Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, depending on the number of doses they’ve previously received and their age.

New COVID-19 strain: New COVID-19 variant BA.2.86 isn't in Florida yet, but you should get vaccinated anyway

Who should get the latest COVID-19 booster?

Everyone aged 6 months and older should get the updated COVID-19 booster shot, according to the CDC.

Where to get COVID-19 vaccines in Florida

Finding updated COVID-19 vaccines in Florida can be done in a number of ways:

  • Visit Head over to and click on “Find COVID-19 Vaccines.” You’ll be taken to a new page that shows a map, a place to enter your zip code and a few filter options. Plug in the info you want and press the search button and you’ll be taken to yet another page with all of your results.

  • Phone: Call 1-800-232-0233 to find COVID-19 vaccine locations near you.

  • Text: Text your ZIP code to 438829 to find COVID-19 vaccine locations near you.

How many COVID-19 vaccines are there?

There are four COVID-19 vaccines authorized in the U.S.:

  • Pfizer-BioNTech

  • Moderna

  • Novavax

  • Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen (J&J/Janssen)

Contributors: Zac Anderson and John Kennedy - Sarasota Herald-Tribune

This article originally appeared on Pensacola News Journal: Why Florida says no to new COVID-19 vaccine guidance