Florida Surgeon General Thinks It’s None Of Your Damn Business If He’s Been Vaccinated
The Republican-controlled Florida Senate appears set to confirm Joseph Ladapo as the state’s surgeon general. Governor Ron DeSantis appointed Ladapo to this somewhat important position in September, and since then, he’s distinguished himself as an anti-vaxxer creep. (Not a surprise considering his past as one of America’s crackpot “frontline” doctors.)
During Tuesday’s Senate hearing, Ladapo refused to say whether he’s been vaccinated. He claimed this was “private” medical information, and yes, the question might’ve been a little too personal if they’d all just met on a cruise ship. (You should not be on a cruise ship.) However, this was an official confirmation hearing for a public medical position. Considering that the unvaccinated are 97 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than the fully vaccinated, the Florida Senate should know if it will have to confirm another surgeon general in a few months.
“It certainly seems like there has been a lot of questions about vaccines and there is some equivocation on your part. Is there a reason why you just can’t come out and say that you believe vaccines are a very important step for prevention,” asked Sen. Tina Polsky, a Democrat, pushing Ladapo to reveal his own vaccination status.
Last October, Sen. Tina Polsky asked Ladapo to leave her office because he refused to wear a mask, even after she told him she had a serious medical condition. (She later revealed that she has breast cancer.)
After Polsky expressed her concerns at the hearing, Ladapo responded with more anti-vaxx nonsense. He said that “with the vaccines, as time goes by, the protection from infection declines” but “unfortunately, there’s been little discussion about this.” There has been discussion about this. It's why booster shots were approved and strongly recommended. Unfortunately, only 40 percent of Americans who are eligible have gotten their booster shots, putting themselves at risk and helping promote the narrative that vaccines don’t work.
Speaking in pidgin babble, Ladapo argued:
I personally believe that people can make their decisions for themselves with information and I think that in some ways they probably make decisions that they’re more comfortable with if elements like coercion or misrepresentation of data or hiding of data are not part of the process.
People are free to choose whether to eat hamburgers or buy the latest smart phone, but those items are still heavily promoted and advertised. Apple doesn’t just assume people will “do their own research” whenever they launch a new product. Fox News hosts have implied there’s something sinister behind the government’s promotion of the vaccine, but they don’t have a problem with My Pillow’s relentless advertising on the network. Let Americans choose for themselves if they want to sleep with their heads propped up.
Any competent physician — and certainly a state’s surgeon general — should know that most people aren’t going to bother getting stuck with a needle unless it’s clearly communicated to them that the shot will help keep them alive. A “you do you” approach to vaccination is not effective.
It’s also not “coercion" to encourage vaccination through mandates. It’s a public health measure, no more tyrannical than requiring that people wear shoes and shirts inside restaurants and stores. The average temperature in Florida is 73 degrees. You really don’t want to make wearing shoes and shirts in public a personal decision.
I suspect that Ladapo won’t answer a direct question about his vaccination status because he is vaccinated. The unfortunate ones who've actually refused vaccination and won’t wear masks are dying in great numbers. Ladapo could easily help prevent this if he’d just admit the truth, but that’s not why he got this job.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. Once, he wrote a novel called “Mahogany Slade,” which you should read or at least buy. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."