June 19, 2022 -- Florida is now allowing pediatricians, children’s hospitals and other doctors to order coronavirus vaccines for children under age 5, though the shots will arrive later than for other states.
Florida was the only state that declined to pre-order vaccines for young children last week, meaning that Florida won’t receive the first allotment of vaccines that began shipping out on Friday after the FDA approved the Moderna and Pfizer shots for ages 6 months to 5 years.
Those doses are scheduled to arrive nationwide starting on Monday, according to The New York Times.
Florida also missed the deadline for the second wave of preordered doses, which is scheduled to arrive about a week later, the newspaper reported. State officials said doctors could order vaccines as needed from the federal government, which would require them to use a state portal that wasn’t opened until after the FDA approved the shots on Friday.
“The state of Florida intentionally missed multiple deadlines to order vaccines to protect its youngest kids,” Ashish Jha, MD, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, told reporters on Friday.
However, state officials argued with White House officials over the weekend, saying that characterizing the Florida policy as a reversal was “patently false.”
“We have always maintained the position that the state of Florida has chosen not to be involved in the preordering or distribution of the vaccine for children under 5,” Bryan Griffin, a deputy press secretary for Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office, said in a statement.
“The state of Florida does not recommend the vaccine be administered to healthy children,” he added.
On Thursday, DeSantis spoke against the vaccines for young children during a press conference, saying that Florida was “affirmatively against” the vaccine for younger kids. On Friday, a U.S. House subcommittee overseeing the coronavirus response sent a letter to DeSantis that urged him to change course.
The public statements have caused confusion for Florida doctors, The New York Times reported. Lisa Gwynn, the president of the Florida chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, said she was in contact with the Florida Department of Health about the vaccines last week and wasn’t informed that doctors would be allowed to place orders after the FDA approved the shots.
“First they said providers could order directly from the federal government,” she said. “That’s not true. We have to order through the state.”
The Florida portal is now accepting the orders from providers, Gwynn told The Washington Post, noting that parents who are eager to vaccinate their youngest kids have been calling doctors’ offices for updates.
“Our main concern now is we aren’t sure when the vaccine will be delivered since we missed the ordering deadline,” she said.
Florida is among the top five states for new COVID-19 infections, according to a Post analysis, with an Omicron surge hitting the state as summer officially begins
Florida is still refusing to offer vaccines for the youngest children through state and local health departments, according to the Tallahassee Democrat. This could make it more difficult for parents to vaccinate children who don’t have a regular health care provider.