Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis Maintains He's 'Not Going to Order' COVID Vaccines for Young Children

Healthcare providers and pediatricians will have to obtain their own COVID vaccines for young kids as Florida remains the only U.S. state refusing to order doses for state health departments

Ron DeSantis
Fla. Gov. Ron DeSantis. Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is standing by his decision to not order a supply of COVID vaccines for children under 5.

"We are not going to have any programs where we're trying to jab 6-month-old babies with mRNA," DeSantis said during a press conference Monday. "We still have not ordered it. We're not going to order it."

Florida is the only state that did not pre-order COVID vaccines for children as young as six months old prior to the Food and Drug Administration's authorization last week. DeSantis claimed there's a lack of evidence to support the need for healthy children to receive vaccines.

"[Joseph] Ledepo [Florida Surgeon General], our Department of Health has looked at it. There is no proven benefit to put a baby with an mRNA, so that's why our recommendation is against it," DeSantis added. "That's different than prohibiting the use in Florida, which we don't have the authority to do and quite frankly, we're confident people can make their own judgement on."

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kids covid vaccine
Kids getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Getty

Last Wednesday, a FDA panel voted unanimously to authorize use of the Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines for children under 5 to six months old. Days later, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also signed off on COVID vaccines for the age group.

Following the vote, many healthcare providers nationwide will receive available doses as early as June 21. Since DeSantis did not pre-order vaccines for the state, Florida healthcare providers, including pediatricians, can expect doses to arrive days or weeks later than other states.

On Friday, DeSantis agreed to allow state healthcare providers and pediatricians to order their own supply of vaccines, according to the White House.

"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 health care providers to order COVID-19 vaccines for our youngest children," White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement. "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 health care provider."

Pfizer and BioNTech announced in December that a two-dose regimen did not elicit enough of an immune response in some children under 5, prompting their study of a third dose.

At the time, the companies reported that the two-dose vaccine was effective in children under age 2, similar to those in the 16-24 age bracket. However, children ages 2 through 5 generally did not have the same response.

In April, vaccine advocates encouraged the administration to act sooner rather than later. Colorado Gov. Jared Polis wrote a letter calling on the Biden administration to step up efforts to get authorization for vaccines for the country's youngest population.

"Hospitalization rates for children under 5 were the highest ever during the omicron surge. While children younger than 5 are less vulnerable to SARS-CoV-2 than adults, they can still experience severe and lasting outcomes," Polis said in the letter. "Delays and lack of urgency from the FDA and vaccine developers in authorizing a vaccine for children under 5 are concerning."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention first approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for emergency use in children ages 12 to 15 back in May 2021. The vaccine received the same approval for children ages 5 to 11 six months later in November.

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