TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday railed against providing Covid-19 vaccines to young children, saying Florida will not provide state programs to administer vaccinations for toddlers or infants.
DeSantis, speaking at a press conference in Miami, said that Covid-19 vaccines have not gone through enough testing and clinical trials to determine that they are effective and added that kids are least likely to suffer serious health consequences from Covid.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Johns Hopkins Medicine and the Mayo Clinic have emphasized that the Covid-19 vaccine is safe and has urged the public to get the shot to protect against the virus and prevent serious symptoms.
“I would say we are affirmatively against the Covid vaccine for young kids,” DeSantis said. “These are the people who have zero risk of getting anything.”
Florida is the only state in the nation not to order fresh doses of the vaccine for children ahead of Wednesday’s decision by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to allow two Covid vaccines to be administered to children under 5 years old. The approval fast tracks the vaccine for distribution and kids could start receiving shots as soon as Tuesday.
DeSantis told reporters that the FDA board made its decision to pacify parent’s fears about the virus.
“To do an emergency-use authorization for a six month old or a one year old simply to placate anxiety, that’s not the standard when you’re doing this,” DeSantis said, adding those fears were stoked by the media.
The Florida Department of Health, which is overseen by DeSantis’ office, issued a statement Wednesday saying it did not place an order with the federal government for the vaccine doses because it did not advise that all children become vaccinated.
The state Department of Health is headed by state Surgeon General Joe Ladapo, who is an outspoken critic of the vaccine. He previously said he opposes the use of the vaccine on young kids and has questioned the effectiveness and safety of vaccines.
DeSantis on Thursday also stressed that the state’s decision not to seek help from the federal government to distribute doses earmarked for kids does not mean the state has banned use of the vaccine.
“You are free to choose — that’s not the issue,” he said.