Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis threw in his lot with anti-vaxxers even further Thursday, suggesting without evidence that receiving a COVID-19 vaccine could impact fertility.
DeSantis made the comment during an event announcing more than $2 million in funding for several colleges offering certification programs for nurses as well as commercial drivers.
“Think about how ridiculous it is what they’re doing with trying to force the nurses with these vaxes,” DeSantis said. “A lot of these nurses have had COVID. A lot of them are younger. Some of them are trying to have families.”
There is “currently no evidence that any vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, cause fertility problems in women or men,” according to the CDC. Additionally, data shows that people who are “pregnant or recently pregnant are more likely to get severely ill with COVID-19 compared with people who are not pregnant,” the CDC says.
A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology earlier this week, for example, found “no adverse association between COVID-19 vaccination and fertility.” The same study found that for men, being infected with COVID “may be associated with a short-term decline in fertility.”
“You know, there’s a whole bunch of things going on. You have places in other states, they will fire the nurses because of the vax,” DeSantis said during the event. DeSantis has been a leading opponent of vaccine and mask mandates, and has even offered unvaccinated cops from other jurisdictions incentive money to move to Florida and work in policing there.
Though DeSantis himself received a Johnson & Johnson vaccine last year, the Florida governor has gestured toward the anti-vaccination wing of the GOP over the past several months as rumors swirl that he may run for president in 2024. (DeSantis has denied he would.)
For example, DeSantis’ pick for state surgeon general was Dr. Joseph Ladapo, who’s expressed skepticism about COVID vaccines and other mitigation efforts such as masking as a way out of the pandemic. And the Florida Department of Health, an agency under DeSantis, recently put the top health official in Orange County on administrative leave and said it would investigate if any laws were broken, after he sent an email to employees calling the department’s vaccination rate “pathetic” and encouraging them to get vaccinated.
During an event in September announcing fines for local governments who require employees to get vaccinated, DeSantis stood next to a speaker who falsely claimed vaccines “change your RNA.” DeSantis later claimed he didn’t hear the man say that.
DeSantis has also refused to say whether he’s gotten a booster shot, which has brought him into conflict with former President Donald Trump, who endorsed his 2018 run for governor. After Trump called out “gutless politicians” who wouldn’t say whether they’ve gotten a booster shot, DeSantis later said he should have been “more loud” in speaking out against Trump’s calls to shut down schools and businesses when the pandemic first started.
Trump downplayed reports of a rift with DeSantis during an appearance on Fox News Thursday, saying DeSantis has “done a really terrific job in Florida,” where Trump lives.
“Ron has been very good. He's been a friend of mine for a long time,” Trump said. “It's totally fake news.”
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