Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo continues to defend his agency’s new guidance against COVID-19 vaccines among adult men as medical experts point out flaws in the Florida Department of Health study intended to justify the recommendation.
Ladapo, who has consistently expressed skepticism about COVID shots, denounced Twitter for temporarily removing his post containing the guidance against doses for males aged 18-39 during an interview Monday with conservative media executive Steve Bannon.
The tweet was later restored by the social media platform, according to reports from news organizations including the Tampa Bay Times. On Friday, the Department of Health released the study suggesting that mRNA vaccines increase the risk of cardiac-related deaths among the male 18-39 demographic.
“It is almost criminal, really, in terms of how much disregard that they have for human rights. And I am not just talking about Twitter but this whole body that think it’s OK to crush the voices of others because you don’t like their message,” Ladapo told Bannon, who served in the administration of former President Donald Trump.
florida Guidelines from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that everyone “stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines,” including children, teens, and those 18 and older.
According to a press release by the state health department, “this analysis found that there is an 84 percent increase in the relative incidence of cardiac-related death among males 18-39 years old within 28 days following mRNA vaccination.”
“With a high level of global immunity to COVID-19, the benefit of vaccination is likely outweighed by this abnormally high risk of cardiac-related death among men in this age group. Non-mRNA vaccines were not found to have these increased risks.”
However, the state study sparked criticism from the broader medical community in Florida and elsewhere. Jason Salemi, associate professor of epidemiology at the University of South Florida, was among the critics.
“I have zero problems with these exploratory investigations,” he said via Twitter on Sunday. “But they should lead to much better designed studies that are comprehensive and actually seek better data before such sweeping recommendations are made.”
Dr. Kristen Panthagani, an emergency medicine resident at Yale School of Medicine, pointed to the lack of an author listed in the analysis and that it is “not published [in a medical journal] and is not peer reviewed,” she said in a tweet following the state’s recommendation.
“Dr. Ladapo has written a thread responding to some of my criticisms of the Florida vaccine analysis,” she said in a tweet Monday. “Overall, his rebuttals do not satisfactorily address the points I raised, and my concerns remain.”
–Isaac Morgan, Florida Phoenix