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Healthy Kids Don’t Need COVID-19 Vaccines

Healthy Kids Don’t Need COVID-19 Vaccines

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Florida health officials are recommending healthy children not get vaccinated against COVID-19. Johnny Greig/Getty Images
  • Florida health officials are now recommending healthy children not get vaccinated against COVID-19.
  • Experts say this is an irresponsible guideline that could lead to a rise in COVID-19 cases among children.
  • They also point out there is no clear definition on what constitutes a healthy child.

As COVID-19 numbers begin to fade, restrictions are starting to lift and people are quickly navigating what their new normal is coming out of a deadly pandemic.

Earlier this week, Florida Surgeon General Dr. Joseph A. Ladapo spoke at a roundtable indicating that the Florida Department of Health will be the first state agency to officially recommend against the COVID-19 vaccine for healthy children.

The Florida Department of Health unveiled that guidance the following day, stating that “healthy children from ages 5 to 17 may not benefit from receiving the currently available COVID-19 vaccine. The Department recommends that children with underlying conditions are the best candidates for the COVID-19 vaccine.”

Not all health experts think this is a good idea.

Most health experts agree the vaccine is the best form of prevention against COVID-19, and the recommendation from Florida health officials is ill-advised.

“I am beyond disappointed and I’m very concerned,” said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Tennessee.

“Th​e CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] committee on immunization practices thought about this very carefully and issued their recommendation for children 5 and older and it was that they should be vaccinated, and there has also been concurrence from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Family Physicians as well,” Schaffner explained to Healthline.

Not all clinicians are taking kindly to Ladapo’s statements, saying they are contrary to proven science.

“Dr. Ladapo is a physician turned politician who has been accused of falsifying his experience treating COVID-19 patients, has questioned the long-term safety of vaccines, claimed ‘masks never saved lives’ during the pandemic, and is now raising an alarm about the claims are potential long-term health risks from vaccinating young children,” Dr. Alok Patel, a pediatrician at Stanford Children’s Health in California, told Healthline.

Ladapo has gone on to say his recommendation is only for “healthy children,” but that doesn’t explain what is considered healthy.

Patel believes there are likely many parents questioning “whether or not their children fall into this nebulous category.”

More than 964,000 deaths from COVID-19 have been confirmed so far in the United States.

Since then, many therapies have been developed, but what has proven itself as the most effective in prevention has been vaccines.

So far, 65 percent of the total U.S. population has been fully vaccinated. More than 76 percent have at least one vaccine dose.

Children continue to get sick from COVID-19. Pediatricians are finding Ladapo’s statements to be a cause for alarm.

“What’s concerning is Dr. Ladapo’s statement will only add doubt regarding the safety and efficacy of the vaccine for young kids — at a time when only 26 percent of kids, ages 5 to 11, are fully vaccinated,” said Patel.

“There are many vaccine-hesitant parents who rely on public health officials for guidance, and right now, they’re seeing headlines in Florida that question the science,” Patel added.

Despite the current slowdown in cases, COVID-19 is likely here to stay. Prevention remains the best form of protection.

It is more than likely that COVID-19 will transform from a pandemic to an endemic — when it is regularly found among the population but can be predictable and manageable.

Schaffner said for the disease to remain in the endemic stage, the country needs to have people vaccinated, including those who are ages 5 and older.

“Although children are less likely to get severe disease from COVID-19, if it is your child that does get severely sick, that likelihood is 100 percent and it likely could have been prevented with the vaccine, so children should still get it,” he said.

Rajiv Bahl, MD, MBA, MS, is an emergency medicine physician and health writer. You can find him at