Former Florida surgeon general rebukes DeSantis administration’s claims on COVID

The COVID vaccines remain “very, very safe, and have a really proven efficacy, particularly against preventing severe disease,” Dr. Scott Rivkees, the former Florida surgeon general during the initial years of the pandemic, told ABC News.

“If they say that COVID vaccines are not safe and that they are not effective, the onus is on them to show those data,” Rivkees said.

Everyone over the age of 6 months is recommended to receive an updated COVID vaccine, according to recommendations made by federal health authorities this week.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Dr. Mandy Cohen defended the updated COVID-19 vaccines saying in a statement that the shots “are proven safe; they are effective, and they have been thoroughly and independently reviewed by the FDA and CDC.”

“Public health experts are in broad agreement about these facts, and efforts to undercut vaccine uptake are unfounded and dangerous,” the statement added.

The Food and Drug Administration told ABC News in a statement that these were not new vaccines being offered.

“To clarify, these are not “new vaccines”…COVID-19 vaccines have undergone—and continue to undergo—the most intense vaccine safety monitoring in U.S. history. Additionally, COVID-19 vaccines have an established track record of safety and effectiveness, from the large-scale clinical trials conducted prior to initial authorization and licensure to real world evidence following their use,” the FDA said in part of a statement provided to ABC News.

Rivkees points to CDC data showing that about 25% of COVID deaths in the state of Florida were in individuals under the age of 65. While there remains a lower risk of severe illness in younger populations, the benefits of protection from a vaccine outweigh any potential risks, federal health authorities say.

“When you look at the data, particularly the pediatric data of younger individuals who gets severe COVID to the point where they can succumb to the virus, more than half of those individuals don’t have underlying medical conditions,” Rivkees said.

“It’s not clear that the previous concerns expressed by Ladapo about myocarditis have solid footing,” Rivkees added.

Current Florida Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo has espoused vaccine-skeptical ideas and came under scrutiny earlier this year after the Tampa Bay Times obtained drafts of an analysis that the paper said showed Lapado omitted data to suggest…

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