If you’re like me, you’re wondering whether or not to get a COVID booster. I’m about to turn 54 years old and I haven’t exactly been kind to my lungs throughout my life. It’s been almost a year since my last booster, and COVID is circulating again in my community at a fairly high rate. My kid is back in the classroom, and I’ve actually started wearing a mask again in certain indoor situations where I anticipate spending a good amount of time in crowded spaces without a lot of air circulation. The first place I look for advice is from the responsible government agencies, and this is what they say:

The Food and Drug Administration on Monday approved a reformulated coronavirus vaccine that targets an omicron subvariant and is cleared for everyone 6 months and older. On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and its advisers recommended the shots, manufactured by Moderna and by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech.

The CDC recommends that everyone 5 and older receive a single dose of the updated vaccine, which is part of an arsenal of tools the government is using to counter an expected increase in covid-19, influenza and RSV as the weather turns cooler. Experts interviewed by The Washington Post said they would get the shot as soon as possible. Previously vaccinated children 6 months through 4 years should receive one or two doses of the updated Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines. Unvaccinated children in that age range should receive three doses of the new Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine or two doses of the Moderna vaccine.

As with any vaccination, there are some risks, and the CDC takes those risks into account. I have no obvious reason to doubt their objectivity or sincerity in making the recommendation that I get the booster. Of course, they don’t know anything about my health history, so if I’m still uncertain I can consult my family doctor to see what he thinks about the risk-reward ratio for my particular case.

One person who I will not be consulting is the governor of Pennsylvania. Josh Shapiro is a good man and he’s doing a good job, but he’s not a health expert and I don’t care what he thinks about immunology. I also won’t be consulting the governor of Florida, for the same reason.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and the state’s surgeon general are warning residents under age 65 against the new coronavirus booster, going against the advice of federal health officials who have recommended the shots.

In a call live-streamed on social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, DeSantis and Surgeon General Joseph A. Ladapo repeated comments made in a live event last week in Jacksonville, Fla., and argued there isn’t enough evidence that the booster’s benefits outweigh any risks. “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 statement after the call with Ladapo and other doctors, which opened with the title “No way FDA.”

Now, Ron DeSantis is warning me not to get the booster because I am under sixty-five. He’s telling me it’s not safe and that I’d be offering myself up as guinea pig. He says it may not even be effective. And if I doubt his credentials to offer me this advice, he has his surgeon general at his side saying that the same things. Dr. Lapado is “a Harvard-trained physician and a professor of medicine at the University of Florida.”

I think it’s confusing to have a state surgeon general contradicting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But then I see that back in March 2023, the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration jointly sent a letter to Dr. Lapado which read in part, “Misleading people by overstating the risks, or emphasizing the risks without acknowledging the overwhelming benefits, unnecessarily causes vaccine hesitation and puts people at risk of death or serious illness that could have been prevented by timely vaccination.”

I believe a certain amount of vaccine hesitation is healthy, which is why I try to do some research to help me make my decisions. But I definitely don’t think people should have unnecessary concerns or be misled about the risk/benefit ratio of particular vaccines. Health officials should generally speaking be extremely reluctant to create any generalized vaccine hesitation, meaning that even if they have concerns about one particular vaccine they should be thoughtful about how they discuss it lest people stop using highly effective and uncontroversial vaccines.

For me, though, this isn’t complicated because I know that DeSantis is running for president and he thinks being a vaccine skeptic will help him win the Republican nomination. I believe his appearance on X (Twitter) with his surgeon general was a transparent political stunt with absolutely zero merit as health advice.

And I find it appalling because I could never imagine doing the same thing for the most basic of moral reasons: thou shalt not kill.

Giving people dishonest reasons not to get a vaccine will inevitably result in the avoidable death of many of the people who listened to you. And this isn’t the same thing as, say, reducing the state budget for children’s health which will predictably result in modest uptick in child mortality. This is you giving people deliberately bad health advice on purpose for no greater purpose than raw ambition, and then some of those people die as a direct result of taking your advice.

And it’s not just political speech in this case either, because DeSantis appeared with Dr. Lapado who is the head of the Florida Department of Health. The two of them sacrificed an unknown number of Americans, in premeditated and deliberate manner, on the altar of their ambition.

So, yeah, I am going to make an appointment to get my booster.

5 5 votes
Article Rating