Why Florida Is Recommending Healthy Children Do Not Get COVID-19 Vaccines

Florida's top health official publically broke with CDC guidance this week, saying that Florida will officially recommend against giving COVID-19 vaccinations to healthy children (per U.S. News & World Report). The announcement, made by Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo, was made near the end of a 90-minute roundtable discussion co-led by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and attended by a group of doctors who have been critical of lockdowns and government mandates.

Ladapo did not elaborate on his statement, and it is unknown when the state will officially release the new guidance. The announcement marks a sharp turn away from CDC guidance, which recommends that all children over the age of five, regardless of health status or prior infection, receive two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine. Ladapo's position has also been criticized by White House and CDC officials who recommend children get vaccinated to prevent COVID-19 illness and spread to vulnerable populations (via Yahoo! News).

Do kids need the vaccine?

Multiple experts at the roundtable discussed that many school-aged kids have already recovered from COVID-19 infection and that natural immunity eliminated their need for vaccination, according to Miami Herald. Others noted that healthy children are generally at low risk from COVID-19 and that the risk of myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) as a result of vaccination, especially in adolescent boys, outweighed the potential benefit of the vaccine.

Dr. Tracy Beth Høeg, who authored a study on the risks of post-vaccine myocarditis, said, "Even for boys who are previously healthy who haven't been previously infected, we didn't find that there was a benefit [to getting vaccinated], there was actually overall risk of giving them the second dose" (via Miami Herald). However, this study has not been peer-reviewed yet.

According to the Florida Department of Health, more than 804,000 children under the age of 16 have become infected with the coronavirus, and about 22% of those between ages five and 11 have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine (per Miami Herald).