Health Care — Florida COVID fight ramps up

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Tonight, Beyoncé is dropping her first single in two years. It’s called “Break My Soul.” Are you ready?

As COVID vaccines for infants, toddlers and preschoolers start rolling out, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) picked a fight with the White House by not pre-ordering doses ahead of time. We’ll look at some of the implications.

Welcome to Overnight Health Care, where we’re following the latest moves on policy and news affecting your health. For The Hill, we’re Peter Sullivan, Nathaniel Weixel and Joseph Choi. Subscribe here.

DeSantis escalates feud with White House

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) is escalating his feud with the White House over the COVID-19 response as he positions himself for a possible presidential campaign in 2024.

DeSantis has been taking heat from infectious diseases experts — as well as state and national Democrats — for his decision not to preorder from the federal government COVID-19 vaccines for infants and young kids.

  • “The state of Florida intentionally missed multiple deadlines to order vaccines to protect its youngest kids,” White House coronavirus response coordinator Ashish Jha told reporters Friday.

The White House initially made 10 million vaccines for young children available for states to preorder.

Having a small stockpile of doses on hand meant shots can start being administered as early as June 20, if states were able to distribute them quickly enough.

But Florida was the only state that decided not to place an order.

No middleman: The argument from state officials was twofold:

  • According to DeSantis, kids aren’t at risk of getting seriously sick. The state’s not going to expend resources on something that isn’t needed. 

  • The Health Department said they’re not going to be the Biden administration’s warehouse for unused vaccines. If a pediatrician’s office or hospital wants the shots, they can place an order through the official state website.

Picking fights: DeSantis has spent much of the pandemic attacking the Biden administration’s COVID-19 mitigation efforts.

The Sunshine State’s governor has made it a point of pride to question and challenge a range of federal guidance, repeatedly promoting the “freedom” of a state without policies such as mask or vaccine mandates.

Read more here.

Adviser: Vaccines ‘good choices’ for kids under 5

White House COVID-⁠19 response coordinator Ashish Jha on Monday heralded the recent authorization of COVID-19 vaccines for kids under the age of 5, saying it gives parents “two good choices.”

  • Over the weekend, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gave the final sign-off to Moderna’s and Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccines for children under age 5, the last group of people in the U.S. to be permitted to receive coronavirus immunizations.

  • Appearing on ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Monday, Jha told host George Stephanopoulos that both vaccines were “exceedingly safe” and effective.

Pfizer’s vaccine is administered in three doses while Moderna’s is administered with two doses.

Should parents wait?: Stephanopoulos asked Jha if parents of children close to turning 5 should wait until they’re older so that they can receive the stronger dose.

“What I personally think — you should go ahead and get your child vaccinated if they’re right on that cusp. You maybe want to talk to your pediatrician or family physician, but really the bottom line is we’ve got safe, effective vaccines for 4- and 5-year-olds, so it probably doesn’t matter hugely,” said Jha.

Read more here.

GOTTLIEB PREDICTS SLOW START FOR KIDS’ VACCINES

There are still questions about how many parents will actually get their young kids vaccinated even after the authorization.

  • Former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said on Sunday that he anticipates a slow rollout for COVID-19 vaccines for children under age 5.

  • “I think it’s going to be a little bit more of a slow rollout relative to what we’ve seen in past rollouts with the other age groups,” Gottlieb said of vaccinating the youngest Americans during an interview on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

“Maybe around children’s hospitals, you’ll see some clinics stood up, but most people are probably going to get vaccinated in their pediatricians’ offices, and it’s going to take a little bit more time to get the vaccine into those local settings because it’s more difficult to vaccinate a child who is very young,” Gottlieb continued.

Not everyone eager to vaccinate their kids: Gottlieb also cited surveys that indicated that roughly 20 percent of parents with children under 5 planned to vaccinate their children but said he anticipated a possibly lower rate.

“As prevalence declines going into the summer, a lot of parents may choose to take a wait-and-see attitude and reconsider this in the fall. I think uptick will be pretty slow,” he explained.

Read more here.

FIRST PROBABLE MONKEYPOX CASES REPORTED IN MISSOURI, INDIANA

State health officials in Missouri and Indiana reported their first probable cases of monkeypox on Saturday.

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had reported monkeypox cases in 20 other states and Washington, D.C., as of Friday, although health officials continue to stress that the risk to the public remains low.

  • Both states sent samples to the CDC for confirmatory testing after the states performed initial tests. Most states have been testing most for orthopoxvirus, the family of viruses which monkeypox belongs to.

“This week, one of our excellent nurses suspected one of our patients may have monkeypox virus,” said Marvia Jones, director of the Kansas City Health Department.

“We are considering this a probable case of monkeypox virus until we receive final confirmation from the CDC labs. We appreciate the work our disease investigation and nursing staff have done to educate themselves on this rare virus and be on alert for it.”

Read more here.

These cities, states say they won’t enforce abortion bans

After a leaked Supreme Court draft decision indicated the high court is poised to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision, which would effectively eliminate federal abortion protections and lead to bans in a number of states, some state and local officials have said they will not prosecute abortion-related cases.

The draft ruling published by Politico in May would give individual states authority over abortion access. According to abortion rights advocacy group Guttmacher Institute:

  • Thirteen states have so-called trigger laws in place that would almost immediately ban or severely restrict abortion if Roe v. Wade is overturned. 

  • Another nine states still have laws or constitutional amendments against the procedure in place from before the 1973 decision. 

  • A number of states have also moved to restrict abortion access in anticipation of the Supreme Court’s decision on the matter.

Abortion holdouts: But some state and local officials, even in states that have the trigger laws in place, have said they are not intent on prosecuting people over the matter, possibly putting officials at odds with one another.

Follow the link below to see a list of state and local officials who say they do not plan enforcing abortion bans.

Read more here.

STATE BY STATE

  • Report: 2 in 3 Hawaii adults experienced negative COVID impacts from health to livelihood (Hawaii News Now)

  • First probable monkeypox case detected in New Jersey, Health Department says (northjersey.com)

  • Maine’s COVID-19 hospitalizations inch lower (Portland Press Herald)

WHAT WE’RE READING

  • ‘It was stolen from me’: Black doctors are forced out of training programs at far higher rates than white residents (Stat)

  • ‘Forever chemicals’ linked to high blood pressure in women (The Washington Post)

  • Those who tested positive for COVID-19 can share their genetic makeup with DNA testing sites to help research (Chicago Tribune)

That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s Health Care page for the latest news and coverage. See you tomorrow.

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