TAMPA, Fla. — Florida was the only state not to pre-order COVID-19 vaccines for children under the age of 5, according to a new report by the Miami Herald.
Citing two sources within the federal government, the newspaper said Florida missed Tuesday's deadline to pre-order doses from the feds, so the state would be ready to quickly administer shots to young kids once regulatory approval had been granted.
On Wednesday, the Food and Drug Administration approved both the 2-dose Moderna and 3-dose Pfizer vaccines for children under 5. The decision was made after a team of experts reviewed data including a spike in children being hospitalized and treated for COVID during the omicron surge. The vote for the two vaccines was unanimous.
In March, Florida's surgeon general declared the state would recommend against COVID-19 vaccines for any healthy children. At the time, CBS News reported that the FDA had cleared vaccines for older children based on a study that showed the shots were 91 percent effective at preventing COVID-19.
However, Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo has maintained that children with underlying health conditions are "the best candidates for the COVID-19 vaccine," whereas healthy children "may not benefit."
The Florida Department of Health released the following statement on Wednesday, echoing Ladapo's perspective.
"The Florida Department of Health (Department) has made it clear to the federal government that states do not need to be involved in the convoluted vaccine distribution process, especially when the federal government has a track record of developing inconsistent and unsustainable COVID-19 policies," the department said.
"It is also no surprise we chose not to participate in distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine when the Department does not recommend it for all children. Doctors can order vaccines if they are in need, and there are currently no orders in the Department’s ordering system for the COVID-19 vaccine for this age group."
According to the Mayo Clinic, children represent about 19 percent of all COVID-19 cases in the country since the start of the pandemic.
While children are less likely to contract the virus, certain medical conditions may increase their risk of infection. Some of these conditions include asthma, obesity, diabetes and genetic conditions.
Following The Herald's report, former governor turned U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, who is now running as a Democrat in the gubernatorial primary, accused Gov. Ron DeSantis of failing Floridians.
"It is reckless and unconscionable that we are the only state in the country to fail to order vaccines for the kids of our state," Crist wrote in a statement. "The Governor needs to focus on keeping Floridians safe instead of spending all his time playing national politics.”
According to The Herald's report, the 49 states that pre-ordered the vaccine could receive two batches at pediatrician's offices as soon as Monday. Florida will remain without a supply until an order is placed, the newspaper indicated.