Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) on Wednesday said the U.S. government will not pay for COVID boosters if he gets elected president in 2024.
“Certainly we’re not going to fund them,” DeSantis told “ABC News Live Prime.”
His comments came after Florida advised residents under age 65 to skip the updated COVID-19 vaccine this fall, even though coronavirus hospitalizations and deaths related to the virus are rising across the U.S.
DeSantis took issue with the studies done on the mRNA boosters, claiming “they have not demonstrated the benefit” of the shots.
ABC News’ Linsey Davis pressed DeSantis on the issue, noting his remarks contradict the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC recommends that anyone over 6 months old receive an updated mRNA COVID vaccine manufactured by either Pfizer or Moderna.
The Florida Republican, who is currently trailing in the 2024 presidential race, proceeded to attack the health agency, saying the American people have lost faith in it.
“The trust that’s been lost, I think, has been incalculable. And one of the things that I said is when I come in, we’re going to have a reckoning about all these COVID policies,” DeSantis said. “We’re going to hold people accountable who got it wrong.”
Biden, on the other hand, has backed the CDC’s recommendations and urged Americans to stay up to date on their vaccinations.
The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices approved the latest COVID-19 booster earlier this month, shortly after the Food and Drug Administration authorized the updated vaccine.
But Florida’s surgeon general, Dr. Joseph A. Ladapo, last week expressed skepticism about the safety of those shots.
“I just think that at this point, with the amount of immunity that’s in the community, with virtually every walking human being having some degree of immunity, and the questions we have about safety and about effectiveness ― especially about safety ― my judgment is that it is not a good decision for young people and for people who are not at high risk, at this point in the pandemic,” he said.
CDC Director Dr. Mandy Cohen has rebutted Ladapo’s criticism, saying both her agency and the FDA have reviewed the shots.
“Public health experts are in broad agreement about these facts, and efforts to undercut vaccine uptake are unfounded and dangerous,” Cohen said.
COVID cases appear on the rise across the country. The CDC reported COVID hospitalizations were up 7.7% for the week ending Sept. 9, while COVID-related deaths increased by 4.5% during the same period.
Meanwhile, DeSantis has been struggling to get traction for his presidential bid.
A new poll released Wednesday by CNN and the University of New Hampshire showed the governor down by 13% compared to the last survey done in the state in July. Apart from former President Donald Trump, DeSantis now also appears to be trailing businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, former United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie when it comes to the respondents’ first choice for GOP nominee in New Hampshire.