DeSantis' Florida Surgeon General nominee dodged at least 4 questions about COVID-19 vaccines during his confirmation hearing

DeSantis' Florida Surgeon General nominee dodged at least 4 questions about COVID-19 vaccines during his confirmation hearing
Florida Surgeon Gen. Dr. Joseph A. LadapoAP Photo/Chris O'Meara
  • Florida's Surgeon General nominee dodged multiple questions about vaccines during his confirmation hearing.
  • Joseph Ladapo — Governor Ron DeSantis' nominee — refused to say if vaccines were safe.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' nominee for Surgeon General dodged multiple questions about whether COVID-19 vaccines were effective during his confirmation hearing Wednesday.

During an hour of questioning, state Senate Democrats pressed Joseph Ladapo on his views about COVID-19 vaccines and mask-wearing.

During the confirmation hearing on Wednesday, Democratic leader Sen. Lauren Book asked Ladapo if vaccines were effective, but Ladapo didn't answer, saying "the question is a scientific one."

Book pressed him, asking him to answer "yes or no" if COVID-19 vaccines were effective at preventing the disease.

Ladapo again dodged, saying he was a "scientist" who could answer "any specific scientific questions."


Book asked again — "scientifically" — if COVID-19 vaccines worked.

The nominee finally responded that vaccines offer "reasonable effectiveness for the prevention of hospitalization and death" and "relatively low effectiveness for prevention" against transmission over time.

But he still would not say "yes or no" if vaccines worked, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

Ladapo's characterization opposes the consensus among infectious disease experts and public health officials, who say getting vaccinated helps prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Ladapo also claimed during the hearing that masks weren't effective at stopping the spread of COVID-19, especially among children, according to the Tallahassee Democrat.


Public health experts, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, say wearing masks helps reduce the spread of COVID-19.

During the hearing, Ladapo didn't say he regretted refusing to wear a mask at an October meeting, despite a request from Democratic state Sen. Tina Polsky, who was undergoing treatment for breast cancer at the time, the Times reported.

"It's very important to respect people's preferences," Ladapo said during the hearing.

When the four Democrats at the hearing weren't satisfied with his responses, they chose to walk out and abstain the vote, according to the Times. The six remaining Senate Republicans, in turn, voted to advance the nomination unanimously.

Ladapo has often bucked the recommendations of public health experts, previously promoting treatments that are unproven to treat COVID-19, such as hydroxychloroquine, and called for people to stop relying on COVID-19 testing earlier this month during the Omicron surge.


In September, Ladapo told reporters that vaccines were "nothing special" compared to other preventative measures.