Every state except Florida orders COVID vaccines for children younger than 5
The state did not preorder supplies of the vaccine for young children from the federal government by a Tuesday deadline.
Every state but Florida has preordered COVID vaccines for children younger than 5 from the federal government, according to a report.
The Miami Herald first reported that Florida missed the Tuesday deadline to order the vaccines.
Gov. Ron DeSantis said on Thursday that the state will not be using any of its resources to provide the vaccines to children younger than five.
"That's not the same as banning it," he said. "I mean, people can access it if they want to and parents can do."
Florida pharmacies that partner with the federal government will have supplies of the vaccine for young children, as will some federally qualified health centers and doctors who request it.
The Biden administration has made 10 million vaccines for young children available in anticipation that the shots will be approved by federal regulators. The supply of vaccines would be delivered to pediatricians, pharmacies and children’s hospitals.
On Tuesday, Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo, who has long criticized vaccination requirements for adults, said he would not support vaccinating young children. Ladapo said there was “insufficient data to inform benefits and risk in children.”
In his surgeon general role, Ladapo is also secretary of the state Department of Health, which issued a statement Wednesday about not ordering the supply of vaccine.
“States do not need to be involved in the convoluted vaccine distribution process, especially when the federal government has a track record of developing inconsistent and unsustainable COVID-19 policies,” the department said. “It is also no surprise we chose not to participate in distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine when the Department does not recommend it for all children.”
DeSantis said on Thursday that the state's recommendation against vaccinating healthy children older than five would also apply to younger children.
"That's different from saying you can't," he said. "You are free to choose. That's not an issue."
The state began offering COVID-19 vaccines during the initial rollout in late 2020 because there was high demand and low supply, DeSantis said. Now, there's a surplus and doctors and hospitals can easily get it, he said.
"But there's not going to be any state programs that are going to be trying to get Covid jabs to infants and toddlers and newborns," he said. "That's not something that we think is appropriate so that's not where we're going to be utilizing our resources in that regard."
On Wednesday, a committee of advisers to the Food and Drug Administration voted unanimously to recommend that the agency authorize COVID vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech for children as young as 6 months.
The committee's recommendations, in a pair of 21-0 votes, pave the way for the FDA to make COVID-19 vaccines available to immunize the last group of people to become eligible for them. The agency is expected to authorize the vaccines soon.
On Friday and Saturday, a committee of expert advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is scheduled to meet and make recommendations about use of the vaccines. Then, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, will weigh in with a statement on their use.