Florida providers now able to order COVID-19 vaccines for young kids

After Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said the state would not employ any resources to support the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines for children under 5, the White House announced pediatricians, children's hospitals and other healthcare providers in Florida will be able to order the shots directly from the federal government, The Tampa Bay Times reported June 17. 

"We are encouraged that after repeated failures by Governor DeSantis to order COVID-19 vaccines even after every other state had ordered, the state of Florida is now permitting healthcare providers to order COVID-19 vaccines for our youngest children," White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told McClatchy, according to The Tampa Bay Times. "We believe it is critical to allow parents everywhere to have the choice to get their kids vaccinated and have a conversation with their pediatrician or healthcare provider." 

The news from the Biden administration comes a day after Mr. DeSantis in a news conference said Florida would not dedicate state resources to vaccines for young children. 

"There is not going to be any state programs that are going to be trying to get COVID-19 jabs to infants and toddlers and newborns," Mr. DeSantis said, Politico reported. "That's not something that we think is appropriate, and so that's not where we are going to be utilizing our resources," citing what he called "abysmal" trial data on the vaccines in young children. 

"Our Department of Health has been very clear, the risks outweigh the benefits and we recommend against it. That's not the same thing as banning it. People can access it if they want to," he said, The Hill reported. 

Florida's health department earlier this week confirmed it had not pre ordered vaccines for children under 5 from the federal government, making it the only state not to request the doses. The FDA authorized the shots June 17 after its outside advisory panel voted 21-0 June 15 to recommend Pfizer and Moderna's options for the youngest population. Pending CDC sign off, the shots could become available as soon as next week. 

Allowing healthcare providers to order the shots will expand access to pediatric vaccine doses in the state once available. Had this not become an option, Florida parents looking to vaccinate their children would have been limited to a select number of federally qualified health centers and certain pharmacies. 

State health facilities will still not place any orders for vaccines for young children, The Tampa Bay Times said. 

In March, Florida advised against COVID-19 vaccination for healthy children aged 5 and older, making it the first state to go against CDC guidance. The state's position was met with a stream of backlash from health experts who reiterated the "widespread consensus" among health experts on the "life-saving benefits" of the vaccine. 


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