Joseph Ladapo won’t say if he’s been vaccinated, but his paycheck now depends on it

Ladapo has until Dec. 8 to get the jab.

Dr. Joseph Ladapo won’t say whether he’s received a COVID-19 vaccination, with his office citing privacy in the matter.

But come year’s end, he might not have much of a choice.

Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed Ladapo State Surgeon General last month and the controversial doctor is now awaiting Senate confirmation when the Legislature convenes in January.

But before that happens, Ladapo, if he’s not already inoculated, will have to make a decision — get the jab or risk losing his other job as a professor at the University of Florida.

UF, in accordance with President Joe Biden’s September executive order mandating COVID-19 vaccines for federal contractors and employees, is giving its employees until Dec. 8 to receive both doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or the single-dose Johnson & Johnson shot. That includes UF Shands and all of the university’s hospitals, physician practices and six health colleges.

This is quite the conundrum for Ladapo, who has made no secret of his feelings on virus prevention measures, including questioning the efficacy of available vaccines. He can hide behind privacy for now to avoid saying whether he’s gotten the jab, but come that Dec. 8 deadline, it might be pretty clear.

If he stays on at UF, where he collects a $262,000 annual salary, it’ll be a likely indicator that he vaxxed-up. He could still claim his right to privacy, by reminding those inquiring that the Biden order allows for religious or medical exemptions, but it will be much harder to evade questions.

Here’s an easy one: So, did you claim a medical or religious exemption?

And a likely follow up: If you did get the shot, why not encourage others to do the same?

Ladapo risks the hypocrisy factor here. Before being named Surgeon General, Ladapo was part of a team of controversial doctors questioning widely recommended COVID-19 mitigation strategies, those most doctors back, and promoting scientifically iffy treatments, such as ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine.

It may come down to one simple math equation: Is your stance on vaccines — whether real or philosophized — worth $262,000 every year?

Maybe Ladapo isn’t concerned with that salary. His Surgeon General gig pays $250,000 a year, after all. But that job isn’t certain to continue.

Ladapo was already a controversial pick. But then he tossed some gasoline on the fire when he refused to wear a mask while meeting — indoors — with a Senator battling breast cancer. Democrats were already irked by his appointment, but that display with Sen. Tina Polsky last week just handed them ammunition to block his confirmation. Ladapo’s non-apology probably didn’t help.

Florida’s top Democrat, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, called for the Senate to deny Ladapo. So did U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, one of Fried’s challengers in the Democratic Primary for Governor. Florida Senate Democratic Leader Lauren Book is probably a no on Ladapo’s confirmation, after she tweeted his actions “call into serious question his ability to advise our state on public health policy.”

Even a top Republican has come out against Ladapo. Senate President Wilton Simpson, in a memo to his members, called Ladapo’s actions “disappointing” and lamented “it shouldn’t take a cancer diagnosis for people to respect each other’s level of comfort with social interactions during a pandemic.”

If the backlash leads to a failed confirmation, Ladapo would be out his $250,000 salary too. If he isn’t vaccinated, and refuses to get vaccinated, he’d likely be out both salaries.

So, ball’s in your court, Dr.

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including Florida Politics and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Schorsch is also the publisher of INFLUENCE Magazine. For several years, Peter's blog was ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.


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