Gov. DeSantis casts doubt on ‘experts,’ encourages people to evaluate third dose for themselves
Ron DeSantis. Image via Scott Powers.

Ron DeSantis
'Just because some expert says something, you have to look at the underlying data for what they're trying to say.'

Gov. Ron DeSantis encouraged Floridians to do research before getting another COVID-19 booster shot, casting doubt on “experts” Thursday.

The Biden administration announced Wednesday that third Pfizer and Moderna vaccine doses will become available eight months after people received their second shot, beginning Sept. 20. The plan is pending an independent safety and effectiveness evaluation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and further analysis from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy said.

DeSantis said the federal government had some of its guidance wrong throughout the pandemic, including keeping children away from classrooms last year. The data now “contradicts” that decision, he noted.

In the past, he’s pointed to experts’ reversal on the benefits of masks — which experts say help mitigate virus spread — and, more recently, their reversal on the need for a third shot. As for a third dose, DeSantis says there’s no clinical data for it yet.

“Just because some expert says something, you have to look at the underlying data for what they’re trying to say,” DeSantis said, responding to a question about whether he would endorse the third shot.

Without the FDA’s analysis yet, the Governor declined to endorse the need for a third dose himself.

“People just need to look and evaluate this for themselves,” he continued. “But certainly I’m not in a position because I haven’t seen the data about what does that third shot mean in terms of is there side effects, is there (any)thing and then what is it gaining you.”

Third doses might not be necessary for people who have already had two shots and who also contracted the virus, DeSantis suggested.

DeSantis said the White House says studies have shown declining efficacy but still provide significant protection against hospitalization and death, meaning more people are testing positive with mild cases despite being vaccinated. However, federal officials fear protection against hospitalization and death could wane.

The three COVID-19 vaccines authorized in the U.S. — Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson — “continue to be remarkably effective” in protecting people from severe disease, hospitalization and death, the statement said. But available data has made clear that vaccine protection against COVID-19 infection decreases over time, and federal health experts have begun to see reduced protections against the virus. The delta variant might require more antibodies to fight off, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser.

“Based on our latest assessment, the current protection against severe disease, hospitalization and death could diminish in the months ahead, especially among those who are at higher risk or were vaccinated during the earlier phases of the vaccination rollout,” according to a White House statement. “For that reason, we conclude that a booster shot will be needed to maximize vaccine-induced protection and prolong its durability.”

However, Dr. Jesse Goodman, a professor at Georgetown University’s School of Medicine who used to be the chief scientist at the FDA, told National Public Radio he worries that setting a start date for a booster program before the relevant data can be evaluated through the normal federal processes may put “the cart before the horse.”

DeSantis pointed to increased cases in nursing homes as a possible inspiration for the federal government to move toward third doses.

His press secretary, Christina Pushaw, questioned whether encouraging people to do their own research on vaccines could lead to them finding vaccine disinformation and whether that feeds vaccine skepticism.

“They should do it in consultation with their health care provider, because the average person doesn’t have the same kind of medical knowledge, obviously, as their health care provider would,” Pushaw said. “But there’s nothing wrong with people doing their own research.”

Psychologists and misinformation experts are seeing links between beliefs in COVID-19 falsehoods and the reliance on social media as a source of news and information, The Associated Press wrote in April. And they’re concluding COVID-19 conspiracy theories persist by providing a false sense of empowerment. By offering hidden or secretive explanations, they give the believer a feeling of control in a situation that otherwise seems random or frightening.

Dr. Perry Brown, a public health professor at Florida A&M University’s Institute of Public Health, told Florida Politics that telling people to self-evaluate whether to get a third shot is safe for the Governor, both politically and medically. However, people could be looking for a reason to validate their existing opinion or come across medical papers that are difficult to understand, he warned.

“It’s kind of a catch 22. You’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t,” Brown said. “I would advocate that people should go out and find credible information. Don’t go to Billy Bob’s real deal on But people might.”

In contrast with his comments Thursday, DeSantis on Wednesday told Floridians to ask their physician about the third shot.

Critics argue DeSantis has promoted treatment over vaccines this month by touting monoclonal antibodies, a therapeutic available when a person at high risk for severe infection tests positive for COVID-19 or is exposed to the virus. But the Governor says it’s not a question of treatment versus vaccines but that both are important, particularly as there are more breakthrough cases. Moreover, he spent much of the first half of the year crisscrossing the state to promote vaccines.

Regardless, DeSantis says third doses will be available in Florida if the FDA approves them. On Wednesday, he added the state wouldn’t “try to block it.”

“Hopefully, the FDA is not going to approve that … unless they have enough clinical data to suggest that this would be something that would be worth doing,” he said Thursday.

Renzo Downey

Renzo Downey covers state government for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his reporting career in the Lone Star State, covering state government for the Austin American-Statesman. Shoot Renzo an email at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.


  • Cliff Gephart

    August 19, 2021 at 1:35 pm

    Where did DeSantis get his medical degree from again?

    • Tjb

      August 19, 2021 at 1:41 pm

      Cliff, that is a easy question to answer. Trump University. His classmates gave him the nickname, Death Santis.

  • Sonja Fitch

    August 19, 2021 at 2:01 pm

    F u Duffus Desantis! Prevention! Prevention! The facts are provable and save lives! Lock up Duffus Desantis for willingly slaughtering Floridians and our children! Duffus Desantis kills kids! Duffus Desantis is a damn Fing drug dealer! Get out Desantis!

    • Harold Finch

      August 20, 2021 at 3:46 pm

      Bitch you is nasty!!

  • Jeffrey Abbott

    August 19, 2021 at 2:20 pm

    “Psychologists and misinformation experts are seeing links between beliefs in COVID-19 falsehoods and the reliance on social media as a source of news and information, The Associated Press wrote in April. And they’re concluding COVID-19 conspiracy theories persist by providing a false sense of empowerment. By offering hidden or secretive explanations, they give the believer a feeling of control in a situation that otherwise seems random or frightening”

    Name calling aside (can we please stop that – I’m just a guilty, but see the error), this is the part that should scare us. While questioning experts is a fundamental component of science and should be done to further knowledge, they also represent a heuristic short-cut due to their knowledge and experience, especially in times of crisis. Strike a balance and during a pandemic isn’t the best time.

    While I am glad Governor DeSantis asked for people to make that decision with their healthcare provided, but comments like this are easily framed as adding potential fuel to the fire of distrust in vaccines and ultimately science with the government.

    This is how mass psychosis is brought about and eventually used by totalitarian aspiring groups. Poorly done for the benefits of the whole in my opinion.

  • Alex

    August 19, 2021 at 3:19 pm

    Why would they lie DeSantis?

    Are they part of the imaginary Deep State?

    Are they commie pinko gay woke cancel CRT scholars?

    Or are they doing it because their base are ignorant knee-jerk geniuses who can’t think their way out of a paper bag even with the evidence, and you need to keep BSing them because you want to be President?


  • Elizabeth Emerson

    August 19, 2021 at 5:51 pm

    As an infectious disease specialist this is just sick. I left practice in July. I was tired of watching friends and colleagues die taking care of those who were arguing that this was a hoax. My favorite? People in the ICU demanding the vaccine or Regeneron. At that point? Neither do anything. DeSantis pushes for the use of a $10k treatment versus a $12 vaccine. Note most people don’t qualify of Regeneron and even then it doesn’t prevent long Covid symptoms or inflammatory lung damage. Which are honestly the most terrifying, as about 30% of people get it and it’s not treatable. Note this includes kids. So do you want you or your child to be crippled with a 1 in 3 chance of severe long term problems? Or masking and getting vaccinated? Because I was treating these patients and it was so sad. 16 year old former athletes who could make it up a flight of stairs. Your choice

    • Matthew Lusk

      August 20, 2021 at 1:55 pm

      I think you lie not just a little. Moral Quitter? Not even close! Most likely– journalism school drop out\ mInimum wage web influencer.

    • Harold Finch

      August 20, 2021 at 3:49 pm

      Elizabeth, you absolutely right!!!!

  • clarence coe flannagan

    August 19, 2021 at 6:58 pm


  • RASS

    August 20, 2021 at 11:36 am

    Rumor has it that our fearless “leader” is trying to figure out how to distill Delta Covid so he can have it mixed into the phosphate mine runoff at Piney Point into Tampa Bay; he and his big donors will get rich selling the “cure”; those Harvard Law Grads sure are smart and getting richer. I suspect that he has directed his staff to draft an emergency executive order to facilitate the enhanced discharge because he surely doesn’t want to declare the pandemic to be an EMERGENCY again – that was soooo last year before he figured out how to make money on sickness. He ought to check out investing in some funeral homes, lest he lose out on another revenue stream, er, discharge canal.

Comments are closed.


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