Kids Under Five FINALLY Getting A COVID Vax! Except In Florida, Because Ron DeSantis Is Why

The FDA’s independent vaccine advisory board voted on Wednesday to recommend approval of COVID vaccines from Moderna and from Pfizer-BioNTech for use in very young children. Both vaccines now just need emergency-use authorization from the FDA, and a final sign-off from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and then they can start being given to babies, toddlers, and preschoolers starting as early as next Tuesday.

Both vaccines can be given to babies as young as six months old. The two-dose Moderna vaccine will be approved for kids up to the age of six, and the three-dose Pfizer vaccine for kids up to five years. And finally virtually all age groups will be able to get a vaccine. States have already pre-ordered vaccines to make sure there’ll be enough doses to meet demand; the federal government should start shipments Monday.

Or at least all states but Florida have pre-ordered the early-childhood doses of vaccine. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has consistently opposed all sound medical advice in responding to the pandemic, because that plays well with the far-Right, confirmed Thursday that Florida will not be ordering any vaccines for young kids, so if parents want their kids vaccinated, they’ll have to hope they can get the vaccine through clinics and pharmacies that receive them directly from the federal government.

“There is not going to be any state programs that are going to be trying to get COVID jabs to infants, toddlers, and newborns,” the Republican governor said in response to a question asked at a press conference in Miami. […] “That’s not something that we think is appropriate and so that’s not where we are going to be utilizing our resources.”

In a remarkable show of good taste and restraint, DeSantis somehow avoided flipping the bird at parents of young children; nor did he shout “Let’s go Brandon!” and smirk.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Florida’s refusal to order vaccine doses will result in Florida parents having a harder time getting their young children vaccinated, compared to other states. It’s not yet clear how long the delays in Florida are likely to be, however. Jean-Pierre noted that some pharmacies and community health centers will get vaccines directly from the federal government, although pharmacies will only be vaccinating kids aged three and up. Younger children would need to go to a pediatrician, and most doctors’ offices have up until now relied on the state to distribute vaccines. Guess Ron DeSantis will teach them a lesson about what happens when you trust the government.

This certainly isn’t the first time Florida has pursued health policies that appear to have been drafted by the actual SARS-CoV-2 virus itself. Early on, DeSantis appeared to play politics with vaccine distribution, with vaccines getting to rich, GOP-leaning communities before they reached poorer communities with higher infection rates. DeSantis recklessly banned schools from requiring face masks, then withheld salaries from school board members who voted to require masks. Last year, DeSantis appointed full-on crank Dr. Joseph Ladapo as state surgeon general, despite (or because of) Ladapo’s habit of pushing misinformation about COVID.

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Continuing DeSantis’s policy of promoting maximum liberty for Florida kids to become infected, Ladapo in March of this year declared that, counter to CDC recommendations, Florida would recommend that children aged five to 17 not be vaccinated unless they have “underlying conditions” that might put them at risk from COVID.

Again, children are not magically exempt from COVID, and cases of the disease in children spiked last winter when the Omicron variant surged. While COVID has mostly killed adults, especially older adults, it can be deadly to children — including babies, toddlers and preschoolers. CDC data show that nationwide, more than 2.5 million children aged zero to four have been infected with the virus, and 481 children in that age group have died from COVID.

Not that science is what’s guiding Florida policy anyway. MAGA chuds hate disease prevention, and vaccines prevent disease, so Florida will not do anything that might increase vaccination rates.

In a statement to Insider about DeSantis’s refusal to order vaccines for kids under six, the Florida Department of Health explained it

“has made it clear to the federal government that states do not need to be involved in the convoluted vaccine distribution process.” It also said that Florida’s decision not to participate should come at “no surprise” given that the department doesn’t recommend shots for children.

“Doctors can order vaccines if they are in need, and there are currently no orders in the department’s ordering system for the COVID-19 vaccine for this age group,” the department said in an email that had no name attached.

DeSantis followed up his comments Thursday with reassurances that if parents want to get their young children vaccinated, they’re still allowed to; he’s just not going to do anything to move that process along.

“The state’s recommendation holds: It’s a recommendation against doing it,” DeSantis said Thursday. “That’s different than saying you can’t. You are free to choose.”

That should be a huge comfort to parents competing to get their kids connected with whatever vaccines actually do get shipped to Florida.

[Politico / Insider / DeSantis image: Gage Skidmore, Creative Commons License 2.0]

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