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Tuesday, January 24, 2023

DeSantis, Lapado, and Antivaxxers

 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.

UnfortunatelyRepublican politicians and conservative media figures are increasingly joining up with the anti-vaxxers.   Even before COVID, they were fighting vaccine mandates and other public health measures. 

John Kennedy at USA Today:
Days after Gov. Ron DeSantis opened his second term with a combative speech blasting federal COVID-19 policies as based “more on ideology and politics than on sound science,” Florida’s surgeon general was a guest on a podcast called Liberty Lockdown.

“Isn’t it a beautiful day to be unvaccinated? It feels so good,” host Clint Russell said before starting into his conversation with Dr. Joseph Ladapo, the state’s top doctor who also is a tenured faculty member at the University of Florida.

With DeSantis expected in coming months to formally launch his bid for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, Ladapo is emerging as a central player in the governor’s outreach to vaccine skeptics and opponents who now form a stunningly large part of the GOP’s national voter base.

The Liberty Lockdown appearance was the doctor’s latest on podcasts which attract a sizable segment of conservative followers.

Weeks earlier, in a First Class Fatherhood podcast airing Nov. 30, Ladapo urged listeners to rely on “intuition,” when it came to following medical or scientific advice.

Ladapo also appeared on right-wing podcasts in the weeks leading up to the November election that DeSantis won by 19% over Democrat Charlie Crist, the largest victory margin in a Florida governor’s race in 40 years.

He disputed widely accepted views of masking and vaccines on shows hosted by Dr. Sherri Tenpenny, an Ohio physician who promotes false claims about COVID-19 shots and wrongly says childhood vaccines cause autism.

Ladapo also appeared on X22 Report, a far-right podcast known for sharing QAnon-related conspiracies and misinformation. He also was on the podcast of conspiracy theorist Stew Peters, who has touted a wide range of false claims about the 2020 election, COVID-19 and more.