Key Point: “‘They told us that because the state didn’t pre-order — that put Florida at the end of the line…’ [Tampa mom Ashley] Comegys said. ‘The hypocrisy is infuriating. With DeSantis, it’s all ‘your choice to wear a mask, your choice to get a vaccine.’ But now he’s making that choice for me and my children by making the vaccine so hard to get.’”
Washington Post: “Kids’ coronavirus vaccines are hard to find in Fla. Many blame DeSantis.”
By Lori Rozsa
July 17, 2022
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — When coronavirus vaccines for infants and young children were authorized for the first time last month, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis warned parents against the “baby jabs,” saying regulators had done insufficient testing and trials.
Still, he said he wouldn’t stand in parents’ way if they chose to vaccinate their kids. “You are free to choose,” he assured them.
Florida parents say it hasn’t turned out that way. Many are struggling to find places to vaccinate their children, and they blame DeSantis — noting he was the only governor to refuse to preorder the vaccines, and to prohibit county health departments from distributing or administering the shots.
“They told us that because the state didn’t pre-order — that put Florida at the end of the line, so we don’t know when it will come in,” Comegys said. “The hypocrisy is infuriating. With DeSantis, it’s all ‘your choice to wear a mask, your choice to get a vaccine.’ But now he’s making that choice for me and my children by making the vaccine so hard to get.”
Florida was the only state that declined to preorder the vaccines. “That’s not something that we think is appropriate, and so that’s not where we’re going to be utilizing our resources,” DeSantis said at a June 16 news conference.
Meanwhile, state officials have sought to limit debate about their decisions, sidelining a prominent doctor who spoke out, even as state Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo says the vaccines are not needed by healthy children — contradicting the advice of pediatricians and infectious-disease experts.
Lisa Gwynn, president of the Florida chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, was removed from the state’s Healthy Kids board of directors after she criticized the failure to preorder the vaccines or offer them to families through local health offices.
“For them, it’s not about science, it’s about politics,” Gwynn said. “But when the state decided not to preorder — and then to not distribute these vaccines to local health departments — that’s when it became a health equity issue. This was real. This was cutting off the supply to those children.”
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