TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Parents in Florida may have to wait longer than parents in other states to get their young children vaccinated against COVID-19.
The state is the only one in the U.S. that decided not to order any doses for kids age 5 and under. The federal government began taking orders from states two weeks ago for 10 million doses.
However, Gov. Ron DeSantis said there’s a surplus of the COVID-19 shots.
“Doctors can get it. Hospitals can get it, but there are not going to be any state programs to get COVID jabs to infants and toddlers and newborns,” the governor said. “That’s not something that we think is appropriate, so that’s not where we’re going to be utilizing our resources.”
“The risk outweigh the benefits and we recommend against,” he added.
In March, Florida formally recommended against the COVID-19 vaccine for healthy kids ages 5 to 17. Now, the Department of Health said the state is leaving it up to individual doctors to request the shots directly for kids under 5.
“He is mistaken,” said Dr. Lisa Gwynn, president of the Florida Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. “That is inaccurate information. Pediatricians cannot order the vaccine directly from the companies – they have to go through the state.”
Dr. Gwynn said the AAP is devastated by the governor’s decision.
“We know our patients – our little ones, the babies – need the vaccine and parents have been patiently waiting,” she said.
She said the governor has completely cut off the supply for shots for young kids.
“There are no options at this point, so we urge the governor and the surgeon general to change their mind about this. Allow parents to make the choice for themselves,” Dr. Gwynn said.
The Florida Democratic Party spokesperson Kobie Christian released a statement Thursday criticizing the decision.
“Every other governor in the country – Republicans and Democrats alike – has taken measures to ensure this vaccine is available to children,” the statement said. “It’s one thing for Ron DeSantis and Joseph Ladapo to choose not to vaccinate their own children, but for them to deprive parents in Florida of that option isn’t only irresponsible, it’s cruel. Ron DeSantis should stop using children’s safety as a political prop and make the vaccine available as soon as possible.”
DeSantis said the state isn’t banning the shots for kids under 5.
“We recommend against, that’s not the same as banning it,” the governor said. “People can get it if they want to.”
Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital sent News Channel 8 this statement:
“As in previous age groups, once all approvals and recommendations by the FDA and CDC are completed for the COVID-19 vaccine in children 6 months through 4 years old, we typically await vaccine supply from the state’s program, Florida SHOTS. While we understand the state of Florida has not ordered vaccine supply, we are looking into other ways to provide the vaccine for this vulnerable age group as we wait for full authorization and recommendations at the federal level.”
This comes as FDA advisors approved the use of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines for children under 5. The CDC still has to approve it. If that happens, the shots could be available next week.