‘Trust me, I’m a politician’: Dr. Ladapo’s irresponsible recommendation against vaccinating young Floridians

Engineered opportunism: Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo and Governor Ron DeSantis. (Florida Channel)

By Dr. Stephen J. Playe

Since graduating from medical school, a combination of factors has made the old adage “Trust me, I’m a doctor” more of a slogan than a message of reassurance. Too bad, because now, more than ever, we need someone to trust. Take the question of vaccination against Covid. You might want to trust Dr. Joseph Ladapo, appointed by Governor DeSantis as Surgeon General of Florida. Dr. Ladapo has Just announced that Florida will be “the first state to officially recommend against the Covid-19 vaccine for healthy children”.

Personally, I don’t trust him. I trust many virologists, public health experts, epidemiologists, vaccinologists and infectious disease specialists. He is none of that. There’s another reason I don’t trust him: I doubt his motives.

His professional aspirations are based on the success of DeSantis. He remains in tune with the governor, whose unabashed pursuit of political gain took him from vaccine advocate in early 2021 to histrionic opponent of vaccines now, and who has made national news angrily saying and wrong to high school students that masks “don’t work.”

ocd flaglerliveDuring his confirmation hearing, Dr Ladapo declined to say whether he was vaccinated. What doctor does that? He refused to wear a mask when State Senator Tina Polsky (who was about to start radiation therapy for cancer) asked him to do so for their meeting. What doctor does that? I’ll tell you: a doctor who renounced his sacred Hippocratic oath to put the well-being of others before his own interests. His new commitment, apparently, is to our state’s ambitious and opportunistic governor. As a general surgeon, Dr. Ladapo undoubtedly has every citizen of our state as his patients. That scares me.

There is room for an informed discussion on the cost-benefit of Covid vaccination in younger age groups. What’s the benefit? There is certainly less benefit for children because they tend to have less severe disease. Corn tens of thousands of American children have been so sick of Covid that they have been hospitalized, and we have unfortunately just reached 1000and pediatric death In the United States, most of these very sick children had comorbidities (including such common things as obesity), but many were otherwise healthy.

With each passing day, we learn more about the long-term damage that Covid can cause to the heart, brainand kidneys, even after mild cases. And vaccines work very well to reduce disease, severity and mortality. What is the cost of childhood vaccination? Not a lot. No out-of-pocket, minor side effects, and no vaccine-related deaths reported after tens of millions of pediatric vaccinations. So, I recommend vaccinations for my grandchildren. Easy decision.

But you don’t have to trust me. I’m a retired ER doctor you’ve never met. But you can trust my doctor. I trust her especially since she recently saved my life. She’s young, smart as can be, an infectious disease specialist, and perhaps most importantly, a mother of young twin girls. I asked her what she thought about vaccinating her twins and she replied, “When vaccines become available for their age group, we will be the first in line. I will maintain one and my husband will maintain the other.

So my doctor and I promote the vaccine for our children and grandchildren. Why? Because we love them. And you can trust us. We are doctors.

Stephen Playe, MD, lives in the hammock.

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