(Headline USA) Florida doctors will be able to order COVID-19 vaccines for children under 5 from the federal government, the White House said Friday, after Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis said the state would not order and distribute the shots in the state.
The state was the only jurisdiction in the nation to decline to place advance orders for the pediatric shots, which received authorization from the Food and Drug Administration on Friday. Final authorization from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected in the coming days, clearing the way for the last remaining unvaccinated age group to obtain shots. The vaccines will be available to children as young as six months.
The White House has been sharply critical of DeSantis’ position but in a statement Friday it welcomed the news that he was permitting individual doctors to order vaccines for their patients.
However, Florida made headlines when it fared just as well with COVID-19 as California despite a noted lack of restrictions and mandates.
Despite this, the White House has remained critical of Florida’s success. “We have begun shipping vaccines to children’s hospitals and pediatricians in every state in the country except Florida,” said White House COVID-19 coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha. “The governor’s failure comes at a price to parents and families of Florida.”
Jha also swiped at DeSantis for defending parental rights in healthcare and educational decisions, saying, “This administration trusts parents.”
DeSantis at the Thursday news conference defended the state’s refusal to order the vaccines.
“Doctors can get it. Hospitals can get it. 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 where we’re gonna be utilizing our resources.”
Federal officials believe most parents of young children plan to get their kids vaccinated at their pediatrician’s office, rather than pharmacies or hospitals, and criticized DeSantis for slowing access to the shots.
Florida health department spokesman Jeremy Redfern said the Florida online portal for ordering vaccines from the federal government, Florida SHOTS, has always been available to hospitals, clinics and small doctor’s offices.
Any provider can order shots and get them with days or a week, according the state health department.
“Florida SHOTS will allow individual providers to order shots the way they always have,” Redfern said. “The Florida health department is not going to be the federal government’s storage unit for their giant pile of vaccines.”
While DeSantis said the state had plenty of supply for vaccines, officials cautioned that shots approved for under-5 kids contain specialized instructions and syringes appropriate for that age group, and that vaccines labeled for older kids shouldn’t be used for the youngest cohort. Pfizer’s pediatric vaccine for younger kids has a smaller dosage than for older ones.
Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press