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Health News Florida
News about coronavirus in Florida and around the world is constantly emerging. It's hard to stay on top of it all but Health News Florida and WUSF can help. Our responsibility at WUSF News is to keep you informed, and to help discern what’s important for your family as you make what could be life-saving decisions.

Florida's new COVID vaccine guidance for healthy kids 5-17: risks outweigh benefits

DeSantis sitting in the middle during a Covid panel
Gov. Ron DeSantis
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The Florida Department of Health issued the new guidance on March 8, 2022, a day after Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo (third from left) joined Gov. Ron DeSantis and a panel of physicians to discuss the pandemic response.

Children with underlying health conditions should consider taking the vaccine and parents "are encouraged to discuss the risks and benefits" with their doctor.

The Florida Department of Health issued new guidance Tuesday that specifies healthy children ages 5 to 17 may not benefit from receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.

The release comes a day after Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo said the state would formally recommend against shots for healthy children and a panel of physicians assembled by Gov. Ron DeSantis discussed what they considered failures in the pandemic response.

The guidance says decisions in that age group should be made on an individual basis, involve the parents and physicians, "and never mandated."

"The risks of administering COVID-19 vaccination among healthy children may outweigh the benefits," the department said in a release announcing the guidance.

Children with underlying health conditions should consider taking the vaccine and parents "are encouraged to discuss the risks and benefits" with their doctor, the guidance reads.

“It is essential for health care practitioners to analyze existing data on the COVID-19 vaccine alongside parents when deciding to vaccinate children,” the department said. “Based on currently available data, the risks of administering COVID-19 vaccination among healthy children may outweigh the benefits. That is why these decisions should be made on an individual basis, and never mandated.”

According to the guidance, healthy children with no underlying health conditions are "at little to no risk" of severe complications from COVID-19 and have a "high prevalence" of existing immunity.

They are also at risk for "higher than anticipated" serious adverse affects after receiving the vaccine, including a risk of myocarditis, or inflammation of the heart.

"For adolescents 16 to 17 years of age, the risk of myocarditis due to the COVID-19 vaccines may outweigh the benefits," the guidance reads.

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