Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is still refusing to say whether he received a Covid-19 vaccine booster, despite former President Trump calling him “gutless” for dodging the question last month.
“That’s something that, you know, I think people should just make their own decisions on,” DeSantis said on Friday when asked whether he’d been boosted. “I’m not going to let that be a weapon for people to be able to use. I think it’s a private matter.”
Earlier this month, Trump bashed DeSantis and other politicians who have refused to divulge their vaccination status as “gutless.” DeSantis had declined to answer a question about whether he’d been boosted a few weeks earlier. His spokesperson explained to Florida Politics that it was a “private medical decision.”
DeSantis hasn’t been so shy about bashing the vaccine in public, effectively discouraging Floridians from receiving it as Covid continues to spread throughout the country. The Republican implied on Thursday that vaccines harm fertility, even though there’s no evidence to support that claim.
“Think about how ridiculous it is what they’re doing by trying to force the nurses” to get vaccinated, DeSantis said at a press conference announcing funding for nursing certification programs. “A lot of these nurses have had covid. A lot of them are younger. Some of them are trying to have families.”
Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) says a lot of nurses don’t want to get vaccinated because “they’re trying to have families.”
(A vaccine, of course, does nothing to prevent nurses from starting families.) pic.twitter.com/zyGtyTUVeo
— The Recount (@therecount) January 20, 2022
Being vaccinated for Covid-19 in no way negatively affects the ability to conceive. A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology the same day DeSantis made that comment mades that clear. “We found no adverse association between … vaccination and fertility,” the study’s authors wrote.
The study, which was funded by the National Institutes of Health, actually found a short-term decline in fertility among men who had been infected with the coronavirus. “Recent [coronavirus] infection has been associated with poor sperm quality, including … decreased concentration, lower motility,” the authors wrote.
DeSantis has been allowing vaccine misinformation to spread unchecked for months. Last September, he did nothing after a Gainesville city employee stood next to him at a press conference and falsely claimed that the vaccine “changes your RNA.” When asked why he did not step in and correct the employee, a spokesperson for the governor told The Washington Post that that “misses the point” as to why DeSantis was there: to highlight the “government overreach and unscientific mandates to control people’s lives.”
DeSantis sued the Biden administration over its vaccine mandate last fall, and although the Supreme Court ultimately sided with the governor last week, it also upheld the federal vaccine mandate for health care workers. DeSantis maintains he won’t be enforcing it. “It’s a private choice,” he asserted. “It’s not something the government should be forcing.”
DeSantis has also done what he can to root out any pro-vaccine sentiment from the state of Florida. DeSantis’s comments on Thursday comes the same week his administration put on leave a state health director all because he encouraged his staff to get vaccinated. “I am sorry but in the absence of reasonable and real reasons it is irresponsible not to be vaccinated,” Orange County Health Director Dr. Raul Pino wrote in an email to staff earlier this month. “We have been at this for two years, we were the first to give vaccines to the masses, we have done more than 300,000 and we are not even at 50% pathetic.”
A spokesperson for DeSantis attempted to justify the governor’s move by claiming that “the decision to get vaccinated is a personal medical choice that should be made free from coercion and mandates from employers.”
Trump attacking DeSantis for not divulging his “personal medical choice” about getting the booster is part of what has been reported as a months-long rift between the two MAGA superstars. Trump claimed on Fox News Thursday night, however, that such reports are “fake news.”