Dr Joseph Ladapo, Florida’s surgeon general, whose previous health claims have garnered criticism, was recently accused of endangering unvaccinated children at school by failing to tell parents to keep them home following a measles outbreak among the students.

And this isn’t the first time the top doctor has come under fire. 

In the past, his controversial comments have clashed with official guidance from health and government officials – from telling men not to get the Covid vaccine to opposing mask and lockdown mandates.

In October 2022, Dr Ladapo recommended men 18 to 39 years old refrain from getting a Covid vaccine, citing a state-driven analysis that had not been peer-reviewed, which suggested the vaccines raise the risk of cardiac-related deaths by 84 percent.

The analysis has since been slammed by scientists who say it contains major statistical flaws.

Dr Joseph Ladapo has repeatedly clashed with science over the pandemic, particularly vaccines

Dr Joseph Ladapo has repeatedly clashed with science over the pandemic, particularly vaccines

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis confirmed Dr Ladapo for a second term, and said: 'His evidence-based principles serve as a counterweight to the increasingly political positions of the entrenched medical establishment, especially on schools, masks and mRNA shots'

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis confirmed Dr Ladapo for a second term, and said: ‘His evidence-based principles serve as a counterweight to the increasingly political positions of the entrenched medical establishment, especially on schools, masks and mRNA shots’

A major flaw experts pointed to was that it did not weed out people who tested positive for Covid — which itself can cause heart inflammation and other issues.

Dr Ladapo said at the time that it was ‘important’ that the risks of vaccines were communicated to Floridians.

‘Far less attention has been paid to safety and the concerns of many individuals have been dismissed,’ he added.

The sixth case of measles at Manatee Bay Elementary School in Weston, Florida was reported Tuesday. 

Doctors were told of the first measles case – a third grader with no travel history – on Friday February 16.

According to the CDC, the MMR vaccine rate in Florida is approximately 91 percent, which is below the national rate of 93 percent.

In March 2023, Dr Ladapo was publicly called out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Food and Drug Administration for spreading vaccine misinformation in response to a letter he wrote to the agencies that misused data from the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System. 

He claimed that vaccines had directly caused adverse cardiovascular events.

He also opposed lockdown and mask mandates throughout the pandemic.

Dr Ladapo’s extreme views have been praised by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who appointed him surgeon general in September 2021.

The governor then confirmed Dr Ladapo in 2022 for a second term, saying at the time: ‘His evidence-based principles serve as a counterweight to the increasingly political positions of the entrenched medical establishment, especially on schools, masks and mRNA shots.’

Dr Ladapo’s first move after being appointed was to repeal quarantine rules for schoolchildren exposed to Covid, which allowed asymptomatic kids who had been in contact with Covid-positive individuals to go back to school without being tested.

The next month, he refused to wear a mask when meeting State Senator Tina Polsky, who was due to have radiation therapy for breast cancer, because he said he couldn’t communicate clearly with one on.

Dr Ladapo also spearheaded Florida’s banning of transgender care.

He has stated that gender-affirming care should not be accessible to minors, including medication like puberty blockers and hormones, as well as social transitioning measures like changed pronouns and names.

In June 2022, the DeSantis administration appealed to the state board to ban transition-related care for transgender minors.

Dr Ladapo with his wife and three children

Dr Ladapo with his wife and three children

Born in Nigeria, Dr Ladapo immigrated to the US with his family at five year old.

He earned a BA in Chemistry from Wake Forest University in 2000, followed by a medical degree from Harvard Medical School and a PhD in health policy from Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

He did his clinical training in internal medicine at a teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

Post-Harvard, he worked at the New York University school of medicine, Bellevue Hospital, and Tisch Hospital in New York.

He was given a permanent post at the David Geffen school of medicine at the University of California where he saw patients one day a week.

As the Covid pandemic emerged, Dr Ladapo began to write op-eds for The Wall Street Journal questioning the safety of Covid vaccines and the need for face masks.

He gained prominence for his controversial views despite not having any background in infectious diseases.

State surgeon general Dr Joseph Ladapo speaking during a press conference at Neo City Academy in Kissimmee, Florida

State surgeon general Dr Joseph Ladapo speaking during a press conference at Neo City Academy in Kissimmee, Florida

In one opinion piece in 2020, he cited ‘My experience caring for patients with suspected or diagnosed Covid-19 infections at UCLA’ and in another article for USA Today in March 2020, he said: ‘I spent the past week taking care of patients with Covid-19 at UCLA’s flagship hospital.’

Multiple previous colleagues have spoken up about his claiming, saying Dr Ladapo had not treated any Covid patients and accused him of misleading the public.

Before being confirmed by the Senate in February 2022, Dr Ladapo’s former UCLA supervisor declined to recommend him due to his reliance on ‘opinion’ rather than ‘scientific evidence.’ 

Dr Ladapo also signed the Great Barrington Declaration, an open letter which advocated for solving Covid through herd immunity – which is when a large portion of a community becomes immune to a disease either through vaccination or immunity developed through previous infection.

Dr Ladapo previously claimed to not have agreed with all the letter’s principles.

His controversial writings caught the attention of Gov DeSantis, who had stated many of the same views during the pandemic.

During his appointment, Dr Ladapo was also fast-tracked to an associate professor of medicine role at the University of Florida Health.

It later surfaced that University of Florida administrators toned down his extreme views when presenting him as a candidate for the job.

Upon being appointed to Florida’s top health job, Dr Ladapo said there was ‘nothing special’ about Covid vaccines.

‘Vaccines are up to the person,’ he said. ‘There’s nothing special about them compared to any other preventive measure.’

‘It’s been treated almost like a religion. It’s just senseless.’

Covid vaccines — developed in record time — are widely credited with bringing the pandemic to an end.

They allowed people to build protection to infections, helping the most at-risk stave off severe disease and death due to Covid.

In 2021 alone, analysis suggests they were behind more than 300,000 lives being saved.

Dr Ladapo had also raised concerns over the safety of the vaccines.

He said in October 2021 that more information was needed on how safe the shots were.

‘You hear these stories of… pregnant women who are being forced to sort of put something in their bodies that we don’t know all there is to know about yet.

‘No matter what people on TV tell you, it’s not true. We’re going to learn more about the safety of these vaccines.’

All vaccines are put through rigorous testing before being approved for use in people to ensure they are safe and top health authorities in America, including the CDC, have repeatedly said they are safe to use.

During his first term, Dr Ladapo advised that healthy children did not need to be vaccinated against Covid, making Florida the first state to oppose CDC guidelines. 

The state refused to follow the CDC in recommending them for those under seven years old in March 2022, and also did not pre-order any shots for the age group.

Asked why they weren’t following recommendations at the time, Dr Ladapo said it was due to a lack of good data to support the move.

Experts he referred to in his recommendation disagreed with him and said he had cherry-picked their findings. 

‘We’re kind of scraping at the bottom of the barrel, particularly with healthy kids,’ Dr Ladapo said. ‘I don’t think it’s particularly radical [to not recommend vaccines for the age group], I think it’s very sensible’.

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