JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has bucked COVID-19 mandates and lockdowns throughout the pandemic, said Thursday the state won’t help distribute or administer new vaccines for toddlers when they become available.
The Republican governor said he does not support vaccinating very young children for the coronavirus.
“Our department of health has been very clear that the risks outweigh the benefits,” said Mr. DeSantis, who is the father of two young children. “And we recommend against it.”
The Florida Department of Health recently announced it opposes vaccinating children due to a lack of information about potential side effects and statistics that show the vaccine’s effectiveness wears off quickly.
A new COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 6 months to 5 years is expected to be cleared for use by the FDA in the coming days.
Florida Democrats said Mr. DeSantis is the only governor who did not place an order for the vaccines ahead of their FDA approval, which Democrats said will delay Florida residents from accessing the shot.
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“Ron DeSantis should stop using children’s safety as a political prop and make the vaccine available as soon as possible,” said Florida Democratic Party spokesperson Kobie Christian.
Pediatricians are free to order the shots, he said.
“Doctors can get it, hospitals can get it,” Mr. DeSantis said. “But there’s not going to be state programs that are going to be trying to get COVID jabs to infants and toddlers and newborns. That’s not something that we think is appropriate.”
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children represent between 1% and 5% of all COVID-19 hospitalizations since the pandemic began. Between 0% and 0.02% of all pediatric cases of coronavirus resulted in death, according to data from 25 states.
The Florida Health Department in March issued a statement against COVID-19 shots for children under 17.
The memo cited data from a study that showed the vaccines quickly lose effectiveness in children, declining 84% over two months.
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