TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida surgeon general nominee Joseph Ladapo, who has publicly questioned the effectiveness of Covid-19 vaccines, will not say if he’s been vaccinated against coronavirus after he was booted last week from the office of a cancer-stricken state senator.
Gov. Ron DeSantis picked the controversial Ladapo last month because of his reticence toward Covid-19 pandemic safety measures such as wearing face masks and relying on vaccines to slow down spread, which are in line with the Republican governor. Yet when asked on Monday if Ladapo himself was vaccinated, Florida Department of Health spokesperson Weesam Khoury said that information is private.
“I am unable to share details about the Surgeon General’s private medical decisions,” Khoury wrote in an email. “Just like I wouldn’t be able to tell you if anyone at the Department has gotten their annual physicals this year, I am not privy to such personal medical information.”
Ladapo’s pass on his own vaccination status comes after state Sen. Tina Polsky (D-Boca Raton) kicked him out of her office last week for refusing to wear a face mask. Polsky announced in August her battle with stage 1 breast cancer. Florida Politics was the first to report that she told Ladapo and two of his Florida Department of Health aides to leave after they refused to don masks during a meeting inside the Capitol last week.
In response to Ladapo, Florida Senate President Wilton Simpson (R-Trilby) sent a memo to members calling the incident “disappointing.”
There’s also controversy over Polsky’s claim after critics pointed to pictures posted on Twitter of Polsky and state Sen. Shevrin Jones (D-Miami Gardens) maskless and smiling inside a Senate office on Oct. 12, which was Jones’ birthday.
Despite proven efficacy, many have rejected coronavirus vaccines. Vaccines themselves have become a hot-button political issue, with some GOP governors like DeSantis and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott rejecting the Biden administration’s plan to mandate vaccinations for businesses with 100 or more employees.
Ladapo, whose area of expertise is in cardiovascular disease, has adamantly opposed most Covid-19 safety measures taken throughout the pandemic. Ladapo, who earned medical and doctoral degrees from Harvard University and has held professorships at New York University and UCLA, also supports the Great Barrington Declaration, which believes “herd immunity” is the only way to end the pandemic, which first hit Florida in March 2020.
Whether Ladapo is confirmed as state surgeon general is up to the Republican-led Florida Senate. DeSantis hired Ladapo from the UCLA medical school, where he was an associate professor. His $512,000 salary is jointly paid by the state Department of Health and the University of Florida College of Medicine.
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