House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) demanded that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) reverse or explain his decision after he declined to order COVID-19 vaccines for children under 5 years of age.
In a letter sent Friday, Clyburn, the chairman of the the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, added that he was concerned by DeSantis’s public comments that he is opposed to dedicating any state resources to vaccinating young children against COVID-19.
He stressed that every state but Florida ordered vaccines after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Friday gave the green light to COVID-19 vaccines for children ages 5 and younger.
Clyburn said that because of the governor’s “deliberate inaction,” pediatricians and family doctors across Florida are currently unable to order doses.
“There is not going to be any state programs that are going to be trying to get COVID jabs to infants and toddlers and newborns,” DeSantis said on Thursday. “That’s not something that we think is appropriate, and so that’s not where we are going to be utilizing our resources.”
Clyburn argued that DeSantis’s opposition would prohibit families from accessing vaccines at federal vaccination sites even if they order vaccines directly from the federal government.
“Your decision to reject these vaccines could deny Florida parents the ability to make their own decisions on what is best for the health of their children—and could deny some Florida children the ability to live long and healthy lives,” he wrote.
Clyburn also pushed back on the Florida governor’s statements that his administration was “affirmatively against the Covid vaccine for young kids” because they “have zero risk of getting anything.”
He stressed that despite COVID-19 infections posing less of a risk to younger children, the risk factor is “significantly above zero.”
The House majority whip stated that more than 2,600 American children under the age of 5 have been hospitalized with COVID-19, and 442 have died from the disease.
“Even mild coronavirus infections can cause serious long-term effects for children, such as multisystem inflammatory syndrome—a rare but potentially deadly inflammatory disorder—and long COVID, which can cause severe fatigue, cognitive difficulties, muscle and joint pain, and other symptoms that persist for months,” he added.