— Lisa Gwynn, MD, removed from board of Florida public insurance provider for kids
A Florida pediatrician was removed from her position on a state board last week after advocating for equitable access to COVID vaccines for kids under 5.
Lisa Gwynn, MD, president of the Florida chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, was notified last Wednesday that she had been removed from her position on the board of Florida Healthy Kids Corporation, a public insurance provider for children.
Gwynn, who also runs a mobile vaccination program for the University of Miami health system, called the decision “disappointing” on Twitter, noting that her removal was directly tied to her advocacy for equitable distribution of COVID vaccines for underserved communities.
“This strikes a chord for me,” Gwynn told MedPage Today. “I’ve seen firsthand, every single day, how difficult it can be for kids to access care.”
Gwynn received a letter from the desk of the organization’s chief financial officer, Jimmy Patronis, stating that she would be removed after she “went on to make some very political statements that do not reflect the CFO’s point of view.” The letter, added that the pediatrician even went “so far as to say that the state is ‘obstruct[ing]’ access to vaccines.”
“The CFO does not share your opinion and believes that the state has gone to great lengths to protect lives in the face of the Coronavirus,” the letter stated.
Florida officials have consistently made statements against COVID vaccination in kids. In March, Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo, MD, said that “healthy” kids should not be vaccinated against COVID-19, in direct opposition to guidance from the CDC and medical organizations.
Then, leading up to the approval of COVID vaccines for kids under 5, Florida was the only state that did not pre-order the shots, delaying the arrival of their supply. The state’s governor, Ron DeSantis, said that Florida was “affirmatively against” COVID vaccination in this age group.
Gwynn learned that there was another barrier — local health departments would not carry the COVID vaccines for kids under 5.