ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — U.S. health authorities have sent a letter to Florida’s surgeon general, warning him that his claims about COVID-19 risks are harmful to the public.
The letter from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was sent to Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo on Friday.
Ladapo was appointed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis in 2021 and has received national scrutiny for his close cooperation with the governor in opposing COVID-19 vaccine mandates and other health policies espoused by the federal government.
Ladapo released guidelines last year recommending against COVID-19 vaccinations for healthy children, contradicting federal public health leaders whose advice says all children should get the shots.
He has also recommended that men ages 18 to 39 get the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines, claiming that an analysis by the Florida Department of Health showed an 84% increase in heart-related deaths.
In their letter, the federal agencies debunked the analysis’s conclusion, saying cardiovascular experts who studied the care had concluded that the risk of strokes and heart attacks was lower in people who had been vaccinated, not higher.
More than 13 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been given worldwide with little evidence of adverse effects, federal health agencies said.
“It is the job of public health officials across the country to protect the lives of the populations they serve, especially the vulnerable. Fostering vaccine hesitancy undermines this effort,” said the letter signed by FDA Commissioner Robert Califf and CDC Director Rochelle Walensky.
The Florida Department of Health did not respond to an email on Saturday asking about the letter.