June 17, 2022 -- Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis spoke against COVID-19 vaccines for young children on Thursday, saying that Florida won’t provide state programs to administer vaccines for toddlers or infants.
DeSantis said coronavirus vaccines haven’t gone through enough testing to determine whether they are effective, adding that kids are the least likely to experience serious health consequences from COVID-19, according to Politico.
“I would say we are affirmatively against the COVID vaccine for young kids,” he said during a press conference. “These are the people who have zero risk of getting anything.”
Florida is the only state in the nation that didn’t order new doses of vaccines for children before the FDA decision on Wednesday to approve the Pfizer and Moderna shots for kids under age 5. This week’s approval opened fast-track distribution, and kids could begin receiving shots as soon as Tuesday, Politico reported.
The FDA, CDC, Johns Hopkins Medicine, and the Mayo Clinic have stressed that the vaccines are safe and have urged people to get vaccinated to protect against the virus. "Serious illness in children with COVID-19 is possible," warns Johns Hopkins Medicine, while the Mayo Clinic says that babies under the age of 1 "might be at higher risk of severe illness with COVID-19 than older children."
But DeSantis has pushed against the prevailing public health advice throughout the pandemic. The Florida Department of Health, which is overseen by his office, said Wednesday that it didn’t place an order for the vaccine doses because it didn’t support vaccines for all children, Politico reported.
The department is headed by Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo, MD, who has been an outspoken critic of COVID-19 vaccines. He previously said he opposed vaccine use in young children and has questioned the safety and efficacy of the coronavirus vaccines, Politico reported.
“To do an emergency-use authorization for a 6-month-old or a 1-year-old simply to placate anxiety, that’s not the standard when you’re doing this,” DeSantis said Thursday.
At the same time, DeSantis said that the decision not to seek help from the federal government to distribute doses for kids doesn’t mean Florida has banned use of the vaccine for young children.
“You are free to choose,” he said. “That’s not the issue.”