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Lee Health, CDC urge COVID vaccines; DeSantis questions booster shots

By NATHAN MAYBERG - | Sep 19, 2023

Lee Health and the Centers for Disease Control continue to recommend that the public obtain the most up-to-date COVID vaccinations at a time when Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis maintains the vaccines are not sufficiently proven to be effective.

The remarks by DeSantis this past week followed a discussion he led with his appointed state Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo and several other public health professionals who shared his view about the recently federally approved COVID-19 mRNA boosters. Ladapo advised against the use of COVID booster vaccines for those under the age of 65.

“I will not stand by and let the FDA and CDC use healthy Floridians as guinea pigs for new booster shots that have not been proven to be safe or effective,” DeSantis said in a prepared statement.

The CDC stands by its public guidance.

Mandy Cohen, CDC Director, called efforts to undercut vaccine uptake “unfounded and dangerous.”

Cohen said “vaccination against COVID-19 remains the safest protection for avoiding hospitalizations, long-term health challenges, and death. As we head into the fall and winter seasons, it is important that Americans get the updated COVID-19 vaccine. They are proven safe; they are effective, and they have been thoroughly and independently reviewed by the FDA and CDC. Since this Administration’s launch of the largest adult vaccination program in our nation’s history, COVID-19 vaccines have saved millions of lives and kept countless people out of the hospital.”

Lee Health is following protocols.

“Lee Health is following all recommendations regarding COVID and the new booster from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC says updated COVID-19 vaccines are recommended for everyone six months and older,” Lee Health spokesperson Katie Egan said.

Lee Health hospitals had four people hospitalized for COVID as of Sept. 12, Egan said.