White House press secretary Jen Psaki disparaged Florida surgeon general Joseph Ladapo on Monday after Florida advised that healthy children should not receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
What is the background?
Dr. Ladapo announced Monday that Florida is "first state to officially recommend against the COVID-19 vaccines for healthy children."
The new policy immediately generated outrage among COVID enthusiasts because the guidance counters the accepted narrative about COVID vaccines and the CDC's recommendation thatall children 5 years and older receive the COVID vaccine and a booster.
As of March 2, the CDC has recorded 865 COVID-19 deaths of Americans under age 18 for the entire pandemic. By comparison, the CDC reported 944,650 deaths among all population groups through the same time period.
What did Psaki say?
During the daily White House press briefing, Psaki was asked whether Ladapo's decision is "good policy."
In response, Psaki — a communications expert, not a medical doctor nor public health expert — said "absolutely not" and condemned Ladapo as a "politician" who is "peddling conspiracy theories."
"Let me just note that we know the science, we know the data and what the most effective steps are in protecting people of a range of ages from hospitalization and even death," Psaki said. "The FDA and CDC have already weighed in on the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines for those 5 and older. The recommendations are vetted transparently with a purpose so that parents can have confidence, after consulting with their pediatricians or doctors if they would like, about the safety."
"But we also know through the data that unvaccinated teenagers are 3x as likely to be hospitalized if they get COVID than vaccinated teenagers," Psaki claimed.
"So, it’s deeply disturbing that there are politicians peddling conspiracy theories out there and casting doubt on vaccinations when it is our best tool against the virus," she said.
Christina Pushaw, a spokeswoman for DeSantis, immediately responded to Psaki's comments, noting that Dr. Ladapo is not an uncredentialed fraud.
"It’s deeply disturbing that you don’t have any medical expertise but push to mandate these shots over the sincere, data-driven advice of experts like [Ladapo]," Pushaw said, and added, "For information on vaccines, I would trust a Harvard MD/PhD [Ladapo] over Jen Psaki and Montel Williams."
In fact, in addition to receiving his MD from Harvard where he also received a Ph.D. in health policy, Dr. Ladapo has worked at NYU, UCLA, the University of Florida, and the FDA, and his research has been funded by the federal government, according to a biography released by DeSantis' office. He is also an immigrant, moving to the U.S. when he was 5 years old.