FLORIDA CENSORSHIP: Children’s doctor fired for opposing DeSantis vaccine policy

FLORIDA CENSORSHIP: Children's doctor fired for opposing DeSantis vaccine policy

In an extremely authoritarian move, Florida Healthy Kids board member, Dr. Lisa Gwynn, was ousted from her position for disagreeing with Gov. Ron DeSantis by publicly criticizing the wannabe dictator’s decision to withhold the Covid-19 vaccine from children five and under. Dr. Gwynn was pushed out by Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis for what he calls “political” statements. An email from Patronis’ Deputy Chief of Staff read:

“The CFO does not share your opinion and believes the state has gone to great lengths to protect lives in the face of the Coronavirus.”

After DeSantis and Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo’s announcement that the life-saving vaccine wouldn’t be available at county health departments, the South Florida pediatrician did multiple interviews decrying their decision. She emphasized the important role health departments play in getting the vaccine to those who need it most. Pediatricians without access to proper storage facilities – as well as those serving impoverished and rural areas – rely heavily on local health departments to get access to vaccines.

It’s something that Dr. Gwynn would know a lot about, with her patients being some of the poorest kids in the state. Gwynn says that “This is about health equity and children that live in poverty. That’s what this is about.”

State Senator Tina Polsky (D-Boca Raton) condemned the ousting of Gwynn in a scathing text, saying that she is “appalled at the decision” and referring to the DeSantis administration as “tyrannical” and a “regime.” She brought up former Surgeon General Dr. Scott Rivkees as an example of how DeSantis handles dissent.

Confirmed in March 2020, Rivkees was chair of the pediatric department at the University of Florida and was heavily criticized by his colleagues for not being at the forefront in the battle against Covid – and not promoting the vaccine. They can thank DeSantis for that.

After urging people to continue taking safety measures, and emphasizing the need to continue social distancing until a vaccine was approved, he was rarely seen in public. According to the Tallahassee Democrat, after Dr. Rivkees’ statements, DeSantis’ communications director whispered in his ear before he was promptly escorted out. The day after Rivkees tendered his resignation in 2021, Ladapo took over his post.

Original reporting by Christine Jordan Sexton at Florida Politics

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Ty Ross

News journalist for Washington Press and Occupy Democrats.