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Florida Allows Doctors to Order Vaccines for Very Young Children Amid Pressure

By Austin Deng

Last Friday, Florida began to allow doctors to order coronavirus vaccines for children under 5 after the state faced pressure from medical professionals and the federal government. However, the delayed response means that Florida will get their vaccines later than the other states.

Unlike the other 49 states, Florida health providers were not able to preorder coronavirus vaccines ahead of the federal government’s deadline. Dr. Ashish K. Jha, the White House’s coronavirus response coordinator, told reporters that “The state of Florida intentionally missed multiple deadlines to order vaccines to protect its youngest kids.”

The White House praised Florida’s “reversal” as an important first step by Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican who frequently opposed vaccination for very young children. However, Mr. DeSantis’s administration insists that it had not budged from its original position.

On Thursday, Mr. DeSantis publicly defended his administration’s position to delay orders for coronavirus vaccines. “I would say we are affirmatively against the Covid vaccine for young kids,” he said. “These are the people who have zero risk of getting anything.”

By Friday morning, Rep. James E. Clyburn, Chairman of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, had sent Mr. DeSantis a letter urging him to reverse his position. Florida then began allowing pediatricians to order coronavirus vaccines.

Bryan Griffin, a deputy press secretary for Mr. DeSantis, insisted that they “have always maintained the position that the state of Florida has chosen not to be involved in the preordering or distribution of the vaccine for children under 5.”

The administration continues to insist that they only allowed orders once the FDA had authorized Moderna and Pfizer-Biotech vaccines for use in very young children on Friday morning.

However, State officials had said on Thursday that doctors could order vaccines as needed. Doctors were only prevented from ordering vaccines due to not having access to the state portal required to order coronavirus vaccines.

Floridian children are expected to begin receiving their first vaccine doses by the end of the week.

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