Florida’s Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo has called for halting the administration of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines such as those manufactured by Pfizer and Moderna. Dr. Ladapo cited concerns about the vaccines causing cancer and impacting DNA, however federal health officials have strongly rejected these claims as misleading and unsupported by scientific evidence.
Surgeon General Cites Discredited Evidence Linking Vaccines to Cancer
In a press conference on January 3rd, Dr. Ladapo advised against using mRNA vaccines due to a study in the UK that suggested increased risk of certain types of cancer after vaccination. He stated:
“Today, I am recommending against continued use of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines in the fight against the pandemic. In patients with cancer diagnosis in the months following vaccination, further research into a possible link between vaccination and cancer is warranted.”
However, top health experts and organizations firmly rebuked these claims as misleading and potentially dangerous misinformation.
Dr. Ashish Jha, White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator tweeted:
“The Florida Surgeon General just went on an angry rant calling for a halt to mRNA vax, citing debunked theories about cancer risk and impact on DNA. His comments were complete nonsense. Dangerous nonsense. mRNA vaccines save lives.”
The study cited by Dr. Ladapo has been thoroughly investigated and rebutted already by global health agencies. No link has been found between mRNA vaccines and increased cancer risk.
FDA Strongly Disputes Claims About Vaccine DNA Risks
In addition to increased cancer risk, Dr. Ladapo called for halting the vaccines due to concerns that they may incorporate into human DNA. He stated:
“Today, I am recommending against continued use of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines in the fight against the pandemic. The benefits do not outweigh the risks of incorporations into human DNA potentially leading to cancer.”
Again, numerous health organizations including the FDA have forcefully disputed these claims.
FDA Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf said:
“The FDA is laser focused on making science-based decisions to protect the public health, and science does not back the state surgeon general’s comments today or rationale for calling for a halt in the vaccination program.”
He further clarified that mRNA from vaccines cannot incorporate into human DNA, making such health risks from vaccination impossible.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) also released a report clearly stating that mRNA technology cannot impact or interact with DNA, and no vaccine DNA has ever been detected in study samples.
Health Experts Condemn “Antiscience” Claims as Reckless and Dangerous
Public health experts roundly criticized Florida’s top doctor for using his platform to promote COVID-19 vaccine misinformation not backed by science.
Dr. Raj Panjabi, senior adviser at the White House Pandemic Preparedness Office tweeted:
“As a doctor, I’m appalled…Science shows mRNA vaccines save lives.”
Democratic state senator Janet Cruz of Tampa said:
“At best, this foolhardy rant by the surgeon general is reckless. At worst, it’s lethal medical malpractice.”
Without any credible evidence, Dr. Ladapo used his position of authority to cast doubt and spread patently false claims about vital public health tools during an ongoing pandemic.
Background: Previous Controversies Over Florida COVID Policies
Dr. Ladapo’s comments continue a pattern of coronavirus policy decisions that run counter to federal guidance under Governor Ron DeSantis.
Previous controversies include:
- Promoting unproven COVID treatments like hydroxychloroquine and regeneron over vaccination
- Resisting school mask mandates, business restrictions
- Public sparring with the White House over vaccine efficacy in children
Dr. Ladapo was appointed in September 2021 and previously worked treating COVID-19 patients. He has authored opinions questioning vaccine efficacy claims and promoting early outpatient treatments.
DeSantis hired Ladapo explicitly to provide “fresh ideas and rational perspectives” contrasting with federal approaches. However, health providers accuse state leaders of ignoring science and data.
What Happens Next?
It remains unclear if Florida will take any concrete policy actions to limit access or administration of mRNA vaccines within the state. However, medical ethicists said Dr. Ladapo has violated his duties by using his platform to spread misinformation not backed by research.
Legal experts added that the state has no authority to halt an FDA-approved vaccination program, and efforts to do so would certainly result in lawsuits. Regardless, public health leaders fear Ladapo’s theories could still negatively sway vaccine hesitant populations.
White House officials called the comments “unconscionable” and promised to take appropriate action if Florida interferes with vaccination efforts. Further confrontation between state and federal health leaders seems imminent.
Over 1 million Floridians have died of COVID-19 since early 2020, underscoring the continued need for evidence-based policy. Many officials expressed hope that science and truth will prevail over partisan politics and wishful thinking.
The coming days and weeks will demonstrate whether evidence or speculation forms the basis of Florida’s ongoing pandemic strategy. Lives remain at stake in the balance.
Table 1: Timeline of Key Events
|Dr. Joseph Ladapo appointed Florida Surgeon General
|Jan 3, 2024
|Ladapo calls for halting mRNA vaccines citing cancer, DNA risk theories
|Jan 3, 2024
|Federal health officials dispute Ladapo’s claims as misleading and unsupported
|Jan 4, 2024
|Medical groups accuse Ladapo of violating medical ethics
|Jan 5, 2024
|White House threatens action if Florida interferes with vaccine access
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