ORLANDO, Fla. — Amid backlash from political rivals, medical professionals and senior federal government officials alike, Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday morning reaffirmed his decision not to preorder newly authorized COVID-19 vaccines or offer them at state health departments.
“We are not going to have any programs where we’re trying to jab 6-month-old babies with mRNA,” he said during a news conference at The Pig Bar-B-Q in Callahan. “We still have not ordered it. We’re not going to order it.”
Florida is the only U.S. state that did not preorder COVID-19 vaccines for kids under 5 before the Food and Drug Administration authorized them. After the FDA granted an emergency use authorization Friday, the state allowed health care providers to place orders for the vaccines, something providers in other states had been able to do since June 3.
Pfizer’s vaccine is one-tenth of its adult dose and is intended for kids 6 months to 4 years old. Moderna’s shot contains one-fourth of the dose given to adults and is intended for children 6 months to 5 years old. The shots will likely be given in three-course series.
Nikki Fried, Florida Agriculture Commissioner and candidate for governor, spoke to media Monday morning as well from Tallahassee, bashing DeSantis’ choice not to preorder the new vaccines.
“It’s just one more anti-science dangerous COVID denialism from the governor and Dr. Ladapo,” Fried said.
She contended DeSantis and Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo should give parents information without infringing on their “parental rights” to make their own decision.
“Telling parents to not vaccinate their children is making a decision on their behalf instead of providing information, knowledge,” she said.
The state Health Department in March recommended against COVID-19 vaccines for healthy kids, saying the risks of vaccinating them “may outweigh the benefits.” This stance has been contradicted by major medical groups including the Florida chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Now that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has signed off on the shots, doctors can begin to administer the vaccines as soon as they get them, said Dr. Ashish Jha, White House coronavirus response coordinator, in a Friday news conference.
Jha earlier this month said he expects vaccinations to begin as early as Tuesday.
Florida health care providers such as pediatricians may receive their vaccines days or even weeks after providers in other states, but his team is trying its best to avoid a long delay, Jha added on Friday.
Fried spokesperson Caroline Stonecipher said it was not intentional to hold Fried’s media availability at the same time as DeSantis’ news conference.