Political fight intensifies over COVID-19 vaccines for children under 5

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — As the country prepares for COVID-19 vaccinations for under-5s in Florida, the debate over whether children should receive them continues to rage.

It comes as the Governor and Florida Department of Health continue to discourage doses for healthy children, saying the evidence is not there.

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried said she is standing up in the absence of leadership from the governor on this issue. She held a press conference on Monday morning to clarify what she described as chaos and confusion.

With injections for toddlers soon a reality in the United States, Fried said Monday she wanted to make it clear that Florida would receive the doses regardless of Governor Ron DeSantis’ continued opposition to them.

“I’ve had parents contact me and contact me all last week saying, ‘Am I going to have to go to Georgia?’ That’s the kind of confusion he created last week,” Fried said.

Fried’s criticism comes as the Department of Health and the governor continue discourage the use of vaccines for healthy children under 5 years of age. Florida has also declined to pre-order injections, the only state to do so, meaning delivery to health providers here is likely to be slow.


Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried accuses Gov. Ron DeSantis of “intentionally creating this chaos” through his opposition to the COVID-19 vaccine for children under 5. Fried, who is challenging DeSantis in the 2022 election, holds a press conference to address the issue June 20, 2022, in Tallahassee, Florida.

Federal officials on Friday estimated that Florida would receive its doses “days” after other states.

Fried hopes it will be as early as next week.

“We saw that the governor intentionally creates this chaos,” Fried said.

The Democrat is challenging DeSantis in the upcoming election, and while she denounced him in Tallahassee, the Republican leader defended his position at a press conference in Callahan, saying he could not ban them, but that would not support them.

We follow the data,” DeSantis said. “You look at these European countries, a lot of them don’t recommend Moderna for people under 30, or they don’t recommend it.”

DeSantis went on to say that vaccines for healthy children lack sufficient evidence for a state recommendation. He called the research used by federal regulators “the weakest data possible” and suggested they were giving in to big pharma.

“These federal government regulators have essentially become subsidiaries of pharmaceutical companies,” DeSantis said. “They’re not independent regulators. They’re basically there to approve what Pfizer wants to do.”

Governor Ron DeSantis speaks during a press conference in Callahan, June 20, 2022


Governor Ron DeSantis speaks during a press conference on June 20, 2022 in Callahan, Florida.

The Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approved the injections last week. It follows a review of shooting tests with hundreds of children. Officials believe the benefits outweigh the risks.

Although neither the Department of Health nor its county offices provide access to the vaccine, parents can obtain them through federal government partner pharmacies or by speaking to their doctor.

There are several resources for vaccination locations, but one of the best is from the federal government, available through click here.

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