ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo says babies and young children should not get the COVID-19 vaccine.
With emergency use authorization expected any day now for the population of those under the age of five, the latest from Tallahassee is causing confusion about whether COVID-19 shots will be readily available to the youngest children in the state of Florida.
Unlike for every other age group, Florida did not preorder these anticipated vaccines for kids under 5.
On Thursday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis addressed the controversy saying the state did not ban the vaccines and parents still have a choice.
"Doctors can get it, hospitals can get it, but there's not going to be any state programs that are trying to get COVID jabs to infants and toddlers and newborns, that's not something we think is appropriate," DeSantis said to reporters.
However, spokespeople at some Tampa Bay hospitals said they don't know where they'll get the shots from.
Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital sent an official statement to 10 Tampa Bay regarding the delayed shots.
"We typically await vaccine supply from the state's program, Florida SHOTS," the hospital stated. "While we understand the state of Florida has not ordered vaccine supply, we are looking into other ways to provide the vaccine for this vulnerable age group as we wait for full authorization and recommendations at the federal level."
The press secretary for the Florida Department of Health, Jeremy Redfern, sent 10 Tampa Bay reporter Liz Crawford a direct message on Twitter saying the statement was incorrect.
You can see the exchange below.
Redfern said that hospitals can order the vaccines through Florida Shots.
"They can still order through Florida Shots. Maybe they should try calling us," he said.
"The only difference is we will not be the fed's warehouse like we are with all of the other unused COVID supplies," Redfern added.
However, the Johns Hopkins Chief Medical Officer Dr. Joseph Perno said staff at the hospital did call for clarification.
"When we called them earlier we didn’t get a straight answer," he said. "We plan on ordering vaccine through our normal channel, Florida Shots, once it’s fully approved, which we’re hopeful will be Monday," said Perno.
Perno is concerned about the confusion and whether they'll have the vaccine for their patients as soon as possible.
"We’re getting very mixed messages so we’re looking at other possibilities to obtain the vaccine if necessary," he said.
BayCare, a big hospital system across the Tampa Bay area is also looking at alternative options.
"BayCare learned of the state's decision to not preorder the new COVID-19 vaccines for the youngest children on Wednesday, along with the public," BayCare said in a statement to 10 Tampa Bay. "We are working to understand what alternative avenues will be available for obtaining the vaccine for families who wish to have their children vaccinated against COVID."