DeSantis accused of creating 'chaos and confusion' in Florida over youngest kids’ COVID vaccines
Florida Governor Rob DeSantis speaks at the University of Miami in 2019. (Shutterstock.com)

As controversy over COVID-19 vaccines for young children in Florida continues, the state Department of Health said Monday that children under 5 will be getting the doses soon.

“Shipments to providers from the federal government should arrive within the coming days,” Jeremy Redfern, press secretary for the state’s health department, said in an email Monday to the Florida Phoenix.

That said, Redfern was clear that the health department will not be distributing the vaccines for kids ages 6 months to 5 years. “We do not recommend the COVID-19 vaccine for most children, and we advise parents to speak with their children’s pediatrician.”

According to The New York Times report on Saturday, “scientific advisers” to the CDC “unanimously decided the benefits outweigh the risks for children under 5 despite some reservations about thin data on efficacy, and the agency’s director signed off on the shots.”

Meanwhile, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried said parents will soon have access to the doses through pediatricians and other providers but not through the state – an issue that has sparked criticism from the Biden administration over Gov. Ron DeSantis’ refusal to order the doses.

“They can order vaccines directly from the federal government,” she said during a press conference Monday in Tallahassee. But because the governor has made the decision to not order the vaccines, “your local health department will not have vaccines,” Fried said.

Fried, a Democratic gubernatorial candidate in 2022, urged the state to make vaccines available at county health departments across Florida.

“Last week’s harmful decision by Governor (Ron) DeSantis and his health department to not pre-order COVID-19 vaccines for children ages 5 and under created chaos and confusion,” Fried said.

She added that state Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo and DeSantis “are playing politics with the health of our kids once again.”

‘We recommend against it’

As previously reported by the Phoenix, the DeSantis had “reversed course and is now ordering vaccines,” according to White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre. That had ignited reaction from the DeSantis administration, arguing that White House officials are spreading disinformation.

That said, DeSantis addressed the issue with White House officials’ comments at a Monday press conference. He also stated that health “practitioners and hospitals” are authorized to order doses for children directly from the federal government.

“So, the White House is lying about it,” DeSantis claimed, bashing the “legacy media.”

“Not surprised the White House would lie, definitely not surprised that legacy media would amplify the lie because that’s what they do. The state of Florida, they came out with an article saying, the state of Florida has not ordered, its department of health has not ordered mRNA jabs for the babies.”

“Yes, we didn’t. We recommend against it. We are not going to have any programs where we are trying to jab 6-month-old babies with mRNA. That’s just the reality. I think what had happened was they thought somehow, we would like be embarrassed by that. No, we’re following the data.”

Fried warned that “Florida will likely see some delays in receiving doses as the federal government is once again having to step up to fill the governor’s leadership void,” due to the DeSantis’ lack of guidance.


Florida Phoenix is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Florida Phoenix maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Diane Rado for questions: info@floridaphoenix.com. Follow Florida Phoenix on Facebook and Twitter.