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Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Florida Surgeon General and Vaccine Misinformation

In The Politics of Autism, I analyze the discredited notion that vaccines cause autism. This bogus idea can hurt people by allowing diseases to spread  And among those diseases could be COVID-19.

David Gorski at Science-Based Medicine:
We here at Science-Based Medicine (SBM) have been combatting antivaccine misinformation and disinformation for nearly 15 years. In our early days—and even our not-so-early days—such pseudoscientific misinformation was disseminated primarily by antivax quacks and the people who believed them. Think Andrew Wakefield, Robert “Dr. Bob” Sears, Paul Thomas, Sherri Tenpenny, Kelly Brogan, and the like, as well as propagandists like Del Bigtree, Mike Adams, and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. Unsurprisingly, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, it didn’t take long for these antivax propagandists to pivot first to COVID-19 minimization and then, when COVID-19 vaccines were introduced, to repurposing old antivax tropes to spread fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) about the new COVID vaccines. They were also soon joined by a new generation of antivax physicians and propagandists, as evidenced by the rise of the hydroxychloroquine-promoting America’s Frontline Doctors in 2020 during the first summer of the pandemic. Among that group of disinformation-peddling (now grifting) physicians was a man named Dr. Joseph Ladapo.

Unfortunately for the people of Florida—and, to a somewhat lesser extent, the people of the US in general—about a year ago Dr. Lapado and his rejection of public health interventions such as masking and vaccines caught the eye of Florida’s COVID-19 minimizing and antivax Governor Ron DeSantis, who appointed him as Florida’s Surgeon General, the official in charge of the Florida Department of Health, in essence the entire medical and public health bureaucracy of the state. Unsurprisingly, Dr. Ladapo immediately started doing Gov. DeSantis’ bidding with respect to the pandemic—it is, after all, what he was hired to do—and promoting the message of “rejecting fear” as a public health strategy, while implementing the Great Barrington Declaration-like policies preferred by Gov. DeSantis that basically stopped trying to slow or mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and let children be infected in schools, even hosting a widely publicized “Urgency of Normalroundtable with Gov. DeSantis and outright antivaxxers like Dr. Robert “inventor of mRNA vaccines” Malone, to promote “don’t worry, be happy” COVID-19 minimizing and denying policies.