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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is “completely incorrect” to call vaccines a personal choice without explaining the context or implications, Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Tuesday.
Vaccines have been the solution to major public health emergencies in the past, he said, including smallpox, polio, and measles. But they rely on wide public adoption to work.
“If [DeSantis] feels that vaccines are not important for people, that they’re just important for some people, that’s completely incorrect,” Fauci told CNN.
“When you’re dealing with an outbreak of an infectious disease, it isn’t only about you,” he continued. “There’s a societal responsibility that we all have.”
On Friday, DeSantis said that COVID-19 vaccines help people to avoid severe illness, but he didn’t encourage everyone to get vaccinated.
“At the end of the day, though, it’s about your health and whether you want that protection or not,” he said during a news conference. “It really doesn’t impact me or anyone else.”
“Yeah, that’s not true at all,” Fauci said Tuesday, in response to DeSantis’s comments.
Vaccines provide personal protection against COVID-19, he said, but they also reduce the spread of the coronavirus in the community. During the past month, COVID-19 cases have spread rapidly due to the more contagious Delta variant, particularly among unvaccinated people. If someone becomes infected, they can pass the virus to older people or high-risk people with other conditions who could become severely ill, he said.
“When you have a virus that’s circulating in the community and you are not vaccinated, you are part of the problem,” Fauci told CNN. “Because you’re allowing yourself to be a vehicle for the virus to be spreading to someone else.”
Unvaccinated people also put children at risk since those younger than 12 aren’t yet eligible for vaccination. The number of children being hospitalized with COVID-19 in Florida has increased by more than 10 times and reached a new peak in recent weeks, according to NPR.
“This is still an outbreak, a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” Fauci told NPR on Tuesday. “And when you look at the percentage of cases, particularly those that wind up with severe consequences leading to hospitalization, it is overwhelmingly among the unvaccinated.”
CNN: ” ‘Completely incorrect’: Dr. Fauci pushes back on DeSantis’ vaccine claim.”
Facebook: Governor Ron DeSantis, Sept. 3, 2021.
NPR: “Fauci Says DeSantis Is ‘Completely Incorrect’ To Call Vaccine A Mere Personal Choice,” “The Optimal Regimen To Fight COVID Will Be A 3rd Shot For A Boost, Fauci Says.”