US regulators authorized the first COVID-19 shots for infants and preschoolers, but Gov. DeSantis decided not to facilitate their distribution, delaying their availability in children’s hospitals and other facilities that have relied on state distribution of the shots.
MIAMI — Florida is the only state that hasn’t preordered COVID-19 vaccines for toddlers before the final approval by the federal government, and Gov. Ron DeSantis said Thursday that he won’t facilitate their distribution, though he said they’ll be available to those who want them.
White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre, who confirmed Florida’s outlier status on Thursday, said not preordering the vaccines could mean delaying their availability in children’s hospitals and other facilities that have relied on state distribution of the shots.
Florida officials said the jabs would be available at pharmacies and community health centers, which can preorder them directly from the federal government, and that children’s hospitals and other clinics would be able to order them from the federal government via a state portal and receive them quickly.
“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,” DeSantis said at a news conference. “That’s not where we’re gonna be utilizing our resources.”
US regulators on Friday authorized the first COVID-19 shots for infants and preschoolers, paving the way for vaccinations to begin next week.
The FDA’s (Food and Drug Administration) action follows its advisory panel’s unanimous recommendation for the shots from Moderna and Pfizer. That means US kids under 5 — roughly 18 million youngsters — are eligible for the shots, about 1 1/2 years after the vaccines first became available in the U.S. for adults, who have been hit the hardest during the pandemic.
Florida’s Health Department does not recommend COVID-19 vaccines for healthy children under 17 but says children with underlying health conditions should be considered candidates for them. That advice contradicts the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), which so far has recommended the vaccines for everyone 5 years and older, saying the shots provide strong protection against hospitalization and death.
In Florida, pharmacies and several supermarket chains, plus some community health centers, can preorder vaccines directly from the federal government. Other venues such as hospitals have previously benefited from the state’s preordering of shots. However, they also can order them directly from the federal government via a Florida government web portal and receive the doses within days or a week, said health department spokesman Jeremy Redfern.