Key Biscayne Firefighter Manny Devesa, left, receives COVID-19 vaccination from City of Miami fire-rescue officer, Jan 4, 2021. Eleven Village first responders have received the vaccine so far as officials work on a local distrubtion plan (Village of Key Biscayne Fire-Rescue via KBI)
- Sponsored -
Share article

Two prominent Key Biscayne physcians say residents with questions about the new COVID-19 booster shot should trust the science and heed recommendations from their own physicians, not politicians. Both doctors said they have confidence in federal health guidelines. 

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis – who is running for president – recommended Wednesday Floridians under the age of 65 skip the new booster to combat the latest Omicron strain.

Dr. Jorge Mendia, an OB-GYN who helped Key Biscayne residents obtain shots in the early days of the pandemic, said it was “extremely disappointing” to see DeSantis and Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo undermine recommendations and credible information on the booster from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration. 

Dr. Mendia described as “nonsense” the claim by Ladapo and DeSantis that people who are vaccinated develop an “increased risk for infection.”

 “The vaccine doesn’t increase your risk of getting infection,” Mendia said. 

Dr. Hamid Keshvari-Rasti, an internist, said there is an easy solution for residents confused about the booster: consult your doctor.  He uses a test available through physicians to check a person’s level of  neutralizing antibodies that fight COVID-19.

If the test shows an individual has low levels of these antibodies, then he recommends a patient gets the new vaccine. “I have no reason to believe that these vaccines don’t work,” Keshvari-Rasti said.

- Sponsored -

Keshvari-Rasti said the CDC is not perfect but he trusts the agency’s guidance on COVID-19. He said DeSantis would be better off focusing on state issues, such as the property insurance crisis.

Both physicians decried the politicization of medical advice. 

“Because all these hurricanes are wiping out Floridians and then we can’t even get insurance for our businesses or homes and yet he’s worried about how COVID-19 is vaccine is going to affect citizens,” Dr. Keshvari-Rasti said. “It’s all politics.”

“It’s just amazing to see somebody who’s the leader of the third largest state in the country, who’s saying these things just for political gain and not in any way caring about the well-being or welfare of the people he swore to serve and protect,” said Mendia. 

COVID cases have been steadily ticking upwards through the summer months in the U.S.

A study by the Commonwealth Fund – which focuses on healthcare advocacy – found that through November 2022, COVID-19 vaccines prevented more than 18.5 million hospitalizations in the U.S. and 3.2 deaths for a savings of $1.15 trillion.

CDC Director Dr. Mandy Cohen called the rhetoric by DeSantis and Lapado “dangerous.”

COVID-19 is similar to the flu where it is constantly mutating. “You are targeting a different viral strain,” Mendia said. 

Tony Winton contributed to this report

Invest in Local News for Your Town. Your Gift is tax-deductible

JOHN PACENTI is the executive editor of the Key Biscayne Independent. John has worked for The Associated Press, the Palm Beach Post, Daily Business Review, and WPTV-TV.

- Sponsored -

JOHN PACENTI is the executive editor of the Key Biscayne Independent. John has worked for The Associated Press, the Palm Beach Post, Daily Business Review, and WPTV-TV.