Florida has not ordered any doses of coronavirus vaccines for very young children from the federal government, state officials said Thursday, arguing that the state does not need to be involved in what they called a “convoluted vaccine distribution process.”
How much Florida’s decision will hinder the distribution of vaccines in the state in the coming days is not yet clear.
The Florida Department of Health said in a statement that it did not place a pre-order for pediatric vaccines in part because “the federal government has a track record of developing inconsistent and unsustainable policies around Covid-19.”
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said at a press conference on Thursday that Florida was the only state to refrain from pre-ordering pediatric vaccinations. Other states have ordered millions of doses that could be available for use as early as next week. The deadline for pre-orders was Tuesday, according to a spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services.
An advisory panel of experts set up by the Food and Drug Administration voted unanimously on Wednesday to recommend that the Moderna vaccine be allowed for use in children 6 months to 5 years of age and the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children 6 months to 4 years of age. years. The agency and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are expected to take action on the matter in the next few days.
In a statement Thursday, the Florida Department of Health said doctors can order vaccines if needed. But Ms. Jean-Pierre said the state’s refusal to submit a pre-order means pediatricians in Florida “will not have immediate access to vaccines.”
Michael Ganio, senior director of pharmacy practice and quality for the American Society of Health System Pharmacists, said that if the state doesn’t order doses, Florida providers won’t be able to get them through government channels. Some may order them directly from the federal government.
Pharmacies entered the federal program have been able to do this since federal support for local medical clinics. Biden administration officials have been looking at ways to distribute doses to other providers in Florida if the state continues to resist ordering on its own, according to administration officials who were not authorized to publicly discuss the planning. A spokesman for CVS Health, one of the largest pharmacy chains in the country, said Thursday that the company will order doses for its stores from the federal government.
Families will be able to access pharmacy websites to check stocks, as well as vaccines.gov, a federal site that tracks availability. As doses are sent and received at pharmacies and other locations, the federal website will be gradually updated to show where they are, one official said.
The Florida Department of Health is led by State Surgeon General Dr. Joseph A. Ladapo, who was appointed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, in September 2021. mandates and lockdowns, and made a number of false or misleading claims about the coronavirus, including that face masks do not stop it from spreading and that the infections it causes are less deadly than flu infections.
In a statement, the department said it had decided not to participate in the distribution of childhood vaccine doses because it did not believe that healthy children should be vaccinated. This position, which the ministry has taken since March, runs counter to guidance from the CDC, which has urged parents to vaccinate their eligible children whether they are healthy or have diseases that make them especially vulnerable. Children 5 years and older are already eligible.
Mr. DeSantis said at a press conference Thursday that there will be no state programs in Florida to vaccinate young children, and that while parents are free to choose, the state recommends that they not be vaccinated.