Despite Dr. Anthony Fauci's acknowledgement that there are no scientific studies demonstrating the COVID-19 vaccines reduce the risk of hospitalization and death in children, let alone transmission, the FDA on Friday authorized the Pfizer and Moderna shots for children as young as 6 months.
But Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis – who has consulted with epidemiologists from Harvard, Stanford, Oxford and Yale – is sticking with the science.
Florida, the Associated Press reported Friday, is the only state that did not preorder COVID-19 vaccines for toddlers in anticipation of FDA approval.
DeSantis said Thursday the shots will be available to those who want them, but he won't facilitate their distribution.
"Doctors can get it. Hospitals can get it. But there's not going to be any state programs that are going to be trying to get COVID jabs to infants and toddlers and newborns," DeSantis told reporters. "That's not where we're gonna be utilizing our resources."
At the White House on Thursday, Biden spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said Florida's move could delay the availability of the shots in children’s hospitals and other facilities that rely on state distribution.
"We encouraged Florida on several occasions to order vaccines," Jean-Pierre said.
But Florida officials said the vaccines can be acquired at pharmacies and community health centers, and hospitals and clinics can order them from the federal government through a state internet portal.
Countering the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, Florida's Health Department does not recommend COVID-19 vaccines for healthy children under 17.
The CDC, after initially insisting the shots prevent transmission, now acknowledges that they don't. But the agency still contends the shots provide strong protection against hospitalization and death.
However, in a Senate hearing Thursday, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., asked Fauci if he knew of any studies showing boosters reduce deaths or hospitalizations for children.
"Right now, there's not enough data that has been accumulated, Senator Paul, to indicate that that's the case," replied Fauci, who has been the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984.
"So there are no studies," Paul interrupted.
"And Americans should all know this," the senator continued. "There are no studies on children showing a reduction in hospitalization or death with taking a booster."
The AP reported Dr. Michelle Kirwan, a chief medical officer and pediatrician at the Center for Family and Child Enrichment in Miami Gardens, Florida, said she was concerned that the state's unwillingness to facilitate the child vaccine program might confuse parents.
"I think it adds to the anxiety, which leads to indecision and delays," she said.
"They will say 'Who do I listen to?' Is this going to harm my baby?' They are between a rock and a hard place."
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