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Florida pushes back after White House says state reversed on vax for young children

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The White House and the state of Florida are duking it out on a national stage over the access to vaccines for children aged 6 months to 5 years old.

The vaccine just got approved by the FDA Friday and is already shipping out to all states, with one exception: Florida.

That’s because Florida was the only state not to preorder the vaccine.

RELATED: FDA authorizes 1st COVID-19 shots for infants, preschoolers

According to the White House, because Florida didn’t preorder the vax, pediatricians and hospitals were unable to order the vaccine for themselves until Friday.

Meanwhile, in other states, care providers were able to place orders through their state health departments ahead of time.

In a zoom press call this afternoon, White House officials said Florida’s decision not to preorder the vaccine will cause shipments to Florida to be deleted by “days”.

“The state of Florida intentionally missed multiple deadlines to order vaccines to protect its youngest kids,” said White House COVID-19 coordinator Dr. Ashisha Jha.

White House officials claim Florida reversed itself Friday after “intense pressure” and is now allowing hospitals and pediatricians to order the vaccine through its SHOTS portal.

It’s a characterization the governor’s office vehemently denies.

“We have never held the position that the state would prohibit healthcare providers from ordering the vaccine,” said DeSantis’ deputy press secretary Bryan Griffin in an emailed statement.

Gov. Ron DeSantis said as much the day prior.

“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, you know, get COVID jabs to infants and toddlers and newborns,” said DeSantis in a press conference Thursday.

Politics aside, Jacksonville pediatrician Dr. Randy Thornton told us he wishes the state had pre-ordered to avoid any delays, especially for the parents who have been waiting for more than a year for the vaccine to become available.

“The parents, they’re getting anxious. I’m hearing from my staff they’re calling and calling,” said Thornton.

DeSantis justified the state’s decision, not to pre-order the shots on Wednesday.

DeSantis stated that it is due to the Florida Department of Health recommending against the shots for anyone under 18.

“We are the first state to do that,” said DeSantis, adding that the state recommends a hold on vaccinations for those aged 6 months to 5 years. “It’s a recommendation against doing it. That’s different than saying you can’t— you are free to choose. That’s not an issue.”

It’s a stance that conflicts with FDA and CDC guidance.

Dr. Thornton worries the mixed messaging will add further fuel to the large rates of vaccine hesitancy among parents.

“But it’s not just COVID,” said Thorton. “Parents are now taking this as, maybe I’ll think twice about getting my measles shot or my DPT vaccine.”

Others like state Rep. Angie Nixon (D-Jacksonville) are upset that the state won’t be providing the shots through state and local health departments.

She argues it will reduce accessibility for the state’s most vulnerable populations.

“Particularly Black and brown people who already have limited access in terms of medical care,” said Nixon.

The White House said it’s working to fulfill vaccine orders placed in Florida as quickly as possible.

If you’re looking to get a vaccine for your child sooner rather than later, federal retail pharmacy partners like CVS shouldn’t be affected by the state’s decision, not to pre-order.

“As a federal retail pharmacy partner, we are able to order vaccines directly from the federal government,” said Matt Blanchette, the CVS retail communications senior manager, in the emailed statement.

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