Florida Governor Ron DeSantis made a startling statement on Friday when he disregarded the societal benefits of COVID-19 vaccines and asserted “It’s about your health and whether you want that protection or not. It really doesn’t impact me or anyone else.”

Appearing on CNN Tuesday morning, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease specialist, called DeSantis’ statement “not true at all.” (Watch above).

Fauci explained that if you’re unvaccinated, “you’re allowing yourself to be a vehicle for the virus to be spreading to someone else. So it isn’t as if it stops with you.”

“There’s a societal responsibility we all have,” he added.

In an editorial, The Miami Herald expresses a similar reaction to the ‘personal choice’ frame DeSantis placed on the vaccine:

Doesn’t impact anyone else? Talk about a profile in selfishness. Almost 46,000 have died of COVID in his state since the pandemic began. Too bad we can’t ask the thousands who have died since vaccines became available if they wished everyone around them had gotten vaccinated.

The Herald explains that when you get inoculated, “you cut down on the chances that you’ll get COVID and then pass it on to others. That means you, as a vaccinated person, are helping to safeguard people who can’t get the shot, like children under 12 and the immunocompromised, such as those with transplanted organs. You’re also helping to protect seniors whose immunity often isn’t robust enough even they are vaccinated. You might even be saving the life of someone who simply refuses to get the vaccine.”

Under DeSantis’ leadership, Florida has experienced a wave of recent COVID-19 infections. The state is reporting an average of 253 COVID-19 deaths a day in the last week, the highest number in the country. Many hospitals are near capacity.

But the recent uptick in cases is beginning to wane in the state. The Miami Herald reports, “Patient counts posted to the [U.S. Health & Human Services] website Saturday said 261 hospitals reported 14,149 COVID-19 patients, a drop of 428, and an average of 54.2 patients per facility. Those patients occupied 23.7% of the total inpatient hospital beds.”

Yet, public health experts are concerned that cases will rise again as students return to school. Fauci addressed that fear on CNN, saying “If we want to protect the children, particularly those who are not yet eligible for vaccination, you want to surround the children with people who are vaccinated – teachers, school personnel, everyone else.”

Fauci also said there are “certain simple things we have to do” like “universal masking in the schools.”

On both measures – masks in schools and vaccine requirements for K-12 staff – DeSantis is out of synch with Fauci’s guidance. The Herald summarizes:

This governor already has gone to war against school boards and parents who want to keep kids safer in schools with mask mandates. He’s fought against cruise lines that want to preserve their businesses by making sure their customers can stay COVID-free on ships, by requiring vaccines. Now he’s dismissing the role of vaccines in reducing community spread.

And it’s the opposite of what he says. COVID’s spread actually is a community problem, and solving it starts with vaccines.