Florida only state yet to pre-order COVID vaccines for kids under 5

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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R)

Florida is the only state in the country that has not pre-ordered from the federal government any COVID-19 vaccines for kids 5 and under, according to a source familiar with the situation.

The White House initially made 10 million vaccines for young children available for states, tribes and other jurisdictions to pre-order in anticipation that the shots will get the green light from federal regulators. 

Florida’s delay, first reported by the Miami Herald, means that pediatricians’ offices, children’s hospitals, pharmacies, community health centers, rural health clinics and other community-based organizations won’t initially have access to the vaccines once they receive authorization.

The doses were available in two separate tranches. Jurisdictions were able to pre-order 5 million doses combined of Pfizer and Moderna’s shots beginning June 3, and another 5 million were made available on June 8.  

The doses will be shipped when the Food and Drug Administration gives its authorization, which could come as early as today. An outside panel of Food and Drug Administration advisors recommended the agency authorize vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna for kids ages 6 months to 5 years.

An advisory panel for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will meet this weekend to issue its own recommendation. If the panel votes in the affirmative and the CDC director signs off, children could start to get vaccinated as early as Monday.

In a statement, Florida’s Department of Health said it was actively choosing not to participate in the “convoluted” federal vaccine distribution process, “especially when the federal government has a track record of developing inconsistent and unsustainable COVID-19 policies.”

According to the state Department of Health, doctors can order vaccines if they are in need, but so far there aren’t any orders for the youngest age group. 

Florida does not recommend healthy adolescent children get vaccinated against COVID-19, a policy that puts it at odds with every other state, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the CDC.

COVID-19 is now one of the top 10 causes of death for children ages 5 to 11, according to the CDC.

Updated at 7 p.m.

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