Ron DeSantis doubles down on decision not to order Covid vaccines for children, calling risk ‘media hysteria’

State has among worst Covid rates and fatalities in US

Ron DeSantis blames 'media hysteria' for parents concerned about COVID

Florida officials are doubling down on their decision not to pre-order any Covid vaccines slated for children under five, ahead of the FDA’s likely approval of the treatment. It’s the only one of the 50 states to have declined to order any, according to the federal government.

“Parents are really frightened about Covid for their kids,” Governor Ron DeSantis said. “It’s because of media hysteria, it’s because of a lot of misinformation.”

The state has defended its choice, saying the federal procurement process is “convoluted” and providers in the state will still be able to order the vaccine, while patients will be able to get it at partnering pharmacies like CVS.

"The Florida Department of Health has made it clear to the federal government that states do not need to be involved in the convoluted vaccine distribution process, especially when the federal government has a track record of developing inconsistent and unsustainable Covid-19 policies," said a representative from the agency.

The White House condemned the decision.

"By being the only state—this is Florida—not preordering, which means that paediatricians, for example, in Florida will not have immediate ready access to vaccines, some pharmacies and community health centers in the state get access through federal distribution channels, but those options are limited for parents. We encouraged Florida on several occasions to order vaccines ... and we will continue to do so," Biden press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on Thursday.

So far, states have preordered 3.8m doses for young children.

The decision from Florida is hardly surprising, given Republican leaders’ general skepticism towards common Covid public health measures like vaccine and mask mandates.

The governor has moved to block businesses and schools from requiring vaccines, and recently threatened the Special Olympics with a $27.7m fine for its vaccine requirement.

The state is one of the few to advise against the vaccine for healthy children.

"Already the rates were low. So, we’re kind of scraping at the bottom of the barrel particularly with healthy kids, in terms of actually being able to quantify with any accuracy and any confidence, the infinite potential of benefit," Surgeon General Dr Joseph Ladapo said in March.

Mr Ladapo urged in 2021 that the release of the Pfizer vaccine itself be delayed until further study could be done.

Florida has the third most Covid cases per capita in the US, and the fourth-highest death rate.

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