Doctor ousted from Florida children’s health board over vaccine advice

Florida CFOr Jimmy Patronis kicks a pediatrician off a council charged with running the state’s Healthy Kids program because of her views on vaccines for children under five.

The Patronis office informed Dr. Lisa Gwynn, who is also president of the Florida chapter of the American Academy of Pediatricsin an email sent Wednesday.

The brief email did not go into specifics, but said Patronis – a Republican seeking re-election this year – was removing Gwynn from the Healthy Kids Council of Florida because she had made “very political statements that do not reflect the CFO’s point of view, even going so far as to say that the state is ‘obstructing’ access to vaccines”.

“The CFO does not share your opinion and believes the state has gone to great lengths to protect lives from the coronavirus,” read the email sent to Gwynn by Susan Miller, who is deputy chief of staff at Patronis.

In an interview with Florida Politics, Gwynn said the Healthy Child Board of Directors has only met once since its appointment in March.

But Gwynn has appeared in about a dozen TV, radio and print interviews since Gov. Ron DeSantis and general practitioner Joseph Ladapo aannounced that the state will not be making COVID-19 vaccines available to children under five at local county health departments.

Local health departments play a key role, Gwynn said, in efforts to vaccinate children. Some of the poorest children in the state visit county health departments to get vaccinated.

But health services also play a key role in helping distribute vaccines to pediatricians who work in rural areas or in small group practices.

Pediatricians who don’t have access to large amounts of cold storage capacity rely on local county health departments to provide COVID-19 vaccines to their patients. Additionally, pediatricians who do not meet the minimum number of doses required to order through the state system also rely on health departments to provide them with vaccines for their patients.

“Paediatricians can still do that to this day for children over five,” Gwynn said of relying on health services to provide them with COVID 19 vaccines. “They, the governor and the chief medical officer of the state, have simply chosen not to allow transportation of children under 5 (by health services). It’s about health equity and children living in poverty. That’s what it’s about.

The Healthy Kids Corporation provides subsidized health insurance to children statewide with funding from both the federal and state governments.

Gwynn, a South Florida pediatrician who cares for poor children, told Florida Politics she never identified herself as a member of the Florida Health Kids Board in any of the interviews.

“I don’t like to play this game. It’s not my intention to engage in this political warfare,” she said.

Sen. Tina Polskia Boca Raton Democrat who spoke to Gwynn about the impact of the DeSantis administration’s decision on vaccines for young children, criticized Patronis’ actions.

“I am appalled by the CFO’s decision to oust Dr. Lisa Gwynn, President of the Florida Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, an expert in pediatric care and vaccines, from the Florida Healthy Kids Board because she is ‘is spoken out against the administration in an effort to offer its youngest and most vulnerable patients a life-saving vaccine,’ Polsky wrote in a text. “The tyranny of this administration continues to stifle any dissenting opinion (e.g., Dr. Scott Rivkees). Every Floridian should know how a renowned doctor was treated by the DeSantis diet.

Last updated June 29, 2022

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