Facing pressure from medical professionals and the federal government, Florida on Friday began allowing pediatricians, children’s hospitals and other physicians to administer coronavirus vaccines to the youngest children, according to state and White House officials. Gave. The change would ensure that families would be able to get shots at doctors’ offices, though later than in every other state in the country.
The White House hailed the move as an important first step, calling it a “reversal” by Governor Ron DeSantis, with the ambition of a Republican president who often positions himself as a foil to President Biden. Mr DeSantis’s administration insisted it has not budged from its original position and only allowed the orders after the Food and Drug Administration authorized Moderna and Pfizer-BioNtech vaccines for very young children on Friday morning. Provided a panel of experts advising the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Its endorsement on Saturday, and the agency’s director endorsed the recommendation, officially cleared the way for vaccinations starting next week.
Unlike the other 49 states and the District of Columbia, Florida does not allow health care providers to pre-order vaccines before the federal government’s June 14 deadline. As a result, no doses will be sent to doctors’ offices in the state during the first wave of vaccine shipments, which are scheduled to begin on Monday. The second wave of pre-ordered doses, which Florida also missed, is due about a week later.
White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Ashish K. “The state of Florida deliberately missed several deadlines to order vaccines to protect its youngest children,” Jha told reporters on Friday.
Mr DeSantis’ deputy press secretary Brian Griffin said in a statement that describing Florida’s policy as reversal was “absolutely false”.
“We have always maintained the position that the state of Florida has chosen not to engage in the pre-ordering or distribution of vaccines for children under the age of 5 years,” he said. “The state of Florida does not recommend vaccinating healthy children,” he said, referring to state guidance issued in March against the CDC’s advice.
State officials had said on Thursday that doctors can order the vaccine if needed. But doing so requires access to a state portal that was not opened for those orders till Friday.
She is president of the Florida chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and an associate professor at the University of Miami. Lisa Gwynn said she was in contact with the Florida Department of Health last week about vaccines and was not informed that physicians would be allowed to order shots only after receiving FDA authorization.
“I’ve been back and forth in contact with people in the agency,” she said. “They’re not telling me that.”
Vaccinations for very young children are usually done in pediatricians’ offices, but unlike pharmacies in the federal COVID vaccine program, doctors cannot order doses on their own, Dr. Gwyn said. She said it appeared some Florida officials were suggesting Thursday that doctors order the vaccine directly from the federal government, even before the state opened its online portal.
“First they said that providers can order directly from the federal government,” she said. “That’s not true. We have to order through the state.”
On Thursday, Mr DeSantis defended his administration’s refusal to preorder any vaccines for state-run medical facilities. This includes county-level public health offices, which are under state control.
“I would say we are positive against the Covid vaccine for young children,” he said. “These are the people who have zero risk of getting anything.”
As of Friday morning, a congressional subcommittee overseeing the coronavirus response had sent Mr DeSantis a letter urging him to reverse his position.
Noah Weiland Contributed to reporting.