Florida Surgeon General Ladapo’s attack on vaccines is dangerous

The following editorial was published in The Daily Sun on Jan 11, 2024.

OUR POSITION: He has his supporters, but we believe Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo’s statements about not using vaccines is dangerously irresponsible.

A new COVID-19 strain is making its way through Florida and some medical professionals believe it could hit hard.

The new JN.1 variant has accounted for 44.2% of new cases in the U.S. since December 2023 according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — about double its share of cases in the previous two weeks.

New hospital admissions with COVID-19 have increased about 17%, from 3,600 admissions per day during the week ending Dec. 16, 2023 to 4,200 admissions per day during the week ending Dec. 23, 2023 according to TheSickTimes.org.

Yet only 18% of U.S. adults have received the latest vaccine.

Why? Blame social media where posters have decried the vaccines as useless or even dangerous. And, while you’re at it, send some blame Dr. Joseph Ladapo’s way.

Florida’s surgeon general has long been a foe of vaccines — although he once did recommend those over 65 get vaccinated.

He upped his rhetoric last week when he said “these vaccines are not appropriate for use in human beings.”

What a startling statement from the highest-ranking health official in Florida.

Ladapo based his statement on concerns there are contaminants in the vaccine that can permanently integrate into human DNA.

Federal officials quickly denounced that idea. The Food and Drug Administration said it has seen no evidence of safety concerns “related to the sequence of, or amount of residual DNA.”

Unfortunately, there are large number of people who have bought into the claims of vaccines being dangerous or useless. Some even believe the COVID vaccines have been responsible for deaths. We’ve seen no evidence of that although there is no doubt people may have died due to other causes after getting the vaccine — giving the anti-vaccine crowd ammunition for their beliefs.

In a New York Times story, John Wherry, a vaccine expert and director of the Institute for Immunology at the University of Pennsylvania, said Ladapo’s rhetoric is “very irresponsible.”

“He has, however, demonstrated a tenuous grasp of science and medicine in general over the course of the pandemic so this is not surprising,” Wherry said.

The FDA, in a letter responding to Ladapo, said, “We would like to make clear that based on a thorough assessment of the entire manufacturing process, FDA is confident in the quality, safety, and effectiveness of the COVID19 vaccines.

“The agency’s benefit-risk assessment and ongoing safety surveillance demonstrate that the benefits of their use outweigh their risks. Additionally, with over a billion doses of the mRNA vaccines administered, no safety concerns related to residual DNA have been identified.”

We’re not health experts. We have no doctor on staff.

But we trust the FDA, other organizations and medical professionals who swear to the safety of these vaccines. They stake their jobs and reputations on the ability to attack COVID variants and help stop the spread of the disease and prevent an outbreak that could, but hopefully not, mimic the 2020-21 nationwide drama.

We can’t imagine a doctor, like Ladapo, coming out against vaccines and medicine 10 or 20 years ago. We believe politics are influencing medical conversations and that could end up tragically for people who heed Ladapo’s ill-advised warnings.

Image Credits: Chris O'Mear/AP