White House says Governor DeSantis has reversed course, now ordering COVID vaccines for children under 5

Governor Ron DeSantis was still refusing Thursday to order COVID-19 vaccines from the federal government, for the nation’s youngest children. But on Friday, the governor had “backtracked and is now ordering vaccines,” according to White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.

“We are encouraged that after Governor DeSantis’ repeated failures to order COVID-19 vaccines even after all other states have ordered, the State of Florida is now allowing health care providers to order vaccines COVID-19 for our youngest children. We believe it is essential to allow parents around the world to have the choice to have their children vaccinated and to have a conversation with their pediatrician or health care provider,” Jean-Pierre said in a statement. .

She added, “Even though Governor DeSantis has reversed course and is now ordering vaccines, we will pull every lever to get pediatricians through Florida vaccines as quickly as possible. This is an encouraging first step, and we urge the state to order vaccines for its state and local health departments, so that all Florida parents have the opportunity to get their children vaccinated.

Meanwhile, Florida press secretary Christina Pushaw claimed in a tweet that White House press secretary and McClatchy media outlet in Washington, D.C., “are both spreading misinformation. NOTHING was “reversed” or changed. The state of Florida is not ordering covid vaccines for babies and children 0-5 years old.

White House coronavirus response coordinator Ashish Jha said Friday afternoon that Florida officials’ decision to deny pre-ordering would likely cause a several-day delay in vaccine distribution to some locations across the country. ‘State.

He also chastised DeSantis and the state health department for refusing to participate in the distribution of vaccines.

“State and local public health departments have always played a very important role in helping children get vaccinated, especially children who don’t have a regular source of care, especially children who don’t have pediatrician or regular family doctor,” Jha said. on a call with reporters. “By refusing to allow state public health departments to offer these vaccines and vaccinate these children, it will specifically leave behind Florida’s most vulnerable and underserved children.”

Allowing pediatricians and hospitals to order the vaccines, Jha said, would expand the number of places parents will have access to the COVID-19 vaccine beyond federal pharmaceutical partners like CVS and Walmart as well as community health centers.

Jha strongly cautioned against a proposal by some in Florida that health care providers could measure lower doses of Moderna or Pfizer adult vaccines than the lower amount allowed for children under 5.

“If you have a small child, you want a vaccine that is specially formulated, packaged and ready for your child. You don’t want someone pulling out a big bottle and trying to get the dosage right. That’s how you get dosing errors,” he said. “That’s why the FDA handles these things very specifically and carefully to make sure these things are done safely.”

Jha declined to say specifically whether the state of Florida reversed course overnight, which the governor’s press secretary disputes. But he noted that “yesterday pediatricians in every state across the country could order vaccines or had the ability to order vaccines for their offices, with the exception of pediatricians in Florida.”

“As of today, pediatricians in Florida now have that choice,” he continued. “Whether it’s a knockdown or not, I’ll let you decide. But something has clearly changed between yesterday and today in the state of Florida.

In what has become a standoff over vaccines for Florida’s youngest children, DeSantis said Thursday that the state government would not be involved in vaccinating children under age 5 and claimed that parents could have access to vaccines for young children via medical practices and hospitals.

This claim has been disputed by the Florida chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

In a Friday press release, FCAAP wrote:

“The COVID-19 vaccine distribution system is state-based and not designed to allow physicians or institutions to order directly from the manufacturer. As a result, if a state fails to pre-order an allocation of vaccines, as is the case in Florida, the vaccines will only be available to federally qualified health centers and certain pharmacies, and not to hospitals. pediatricians in private practice or family physicians. doctors. Additionally, clinicians cannot administer vaccines formulated for older populations to younger children.

Federally licensed health centers are “community-based health care providers who receive funding…to provide primary care services in underserved areas. They must meet a strict set of requirements, including providing care on a sliding scale based on ability to pay and operating under the direction of a board of directors that includes patients,” according to the Federal Resource Administration. and health services.

“The centers can be community health centers, migrant health centers, homeless health care,” according to the website. People can go to the agency’s website, ‘Find a health center’.

For example, there are hundreds of centers spread all over Florida.

As for pharmacies, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried mentioned several potential places to get vaccines for young children and infants, including Costco, CVS, Publix, Harvey’s, Walmart and Walgreen.

For example, CVS confirmed to the Florida Phoenix that it has a partnership with the federal government allowing it to order vaccines regardless of state government. However, it has a finite number of outlets.

Michael Jackson, pharmacist and executive vice president of the Florida Pharmacy Association, said national drugstore chains will likely be able to guarantee doses for Floridians, but independent pharmacies likely won’t be able to provide them. Indeed, pharmacies are no longer reimbursed with federal COVID funds to provide vaccines to underinsured or uninsured people.

At a Friday morning press conference, Fried had called on DeSantis and the state health department to “put politics aside” and place orders for childhood vaccines.

Pfizer has asked the FDA to authorize a three-dose vaccine for children ages 6 months to 4 years, while Moderna is seeking authorization for a two-dose vaccine for children ages 6 months to 5 years.

“We anticipate that tomorrow the CDC will ‘approve the shots after FDA approval,'” Fried said. “Which means these photos will be ready for families across the country early next week. However, here in Florida, unfortunately, we’re going to be a little late.

Fried, who is also a Democratic gubernatorial candidate, said the DeSantis administration continues to spread “dangerous anti-science and COVID” messages that “are putting our children at risk again.”

“Not only the [Florida] The Department of Health does not recommend COVID vaccines for children, contrary to traditional public health guidelines, they deprive parents of the right to protect these young children.

She added: “Over the past 24 hours, the number of parents who have contacted me were confused, frustrated, unsure how to get their children vaccinated due to the Governor’s lack of empathy, lack of will to put politics aside.”

She said her agency was in communication with White House officials.

McClatchy’s news organizations “first reported Wednesday that Florida was the only U.S. state not to order COVID-19 vaccines for children under 5, missing a deadline for pre-orders. set by the federal government.Public health officials and the Biden administration are warning that parents across the state will struggle to find vaccines for their children as a result.The news has sparked public outcry among doctors in On Friday morning, a congressional panel created to oversee the federal response to the coronavirus demanded an explanation from the governor unless he backed down.

McClatchy also reported that, “Health facilities across the state still won’t be placing orders for vaccine doses, a Biden administration official said.”

Meanwhile, the Kaiser Family Foundation said in a recent survey that: “

“The latest KFF COVID-19 Vaccine Monitor survey reveals that around one in five parents of children under 5 (18%) are eager to get their child vaccinated right away, while a larger share (38 %) says he plans to wait a while to see how the vaccine works for others.

Washington, DC reporter Jacob Fischler contributed to this report.

Phoenix editor Diane Rado contributed to this report.

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