Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday defended his state’s decision not to apply for COVID-19 vaccines for young children ahead of expected federal approvals.
DeSantis backed his health department’s decision, saying he is opposed to administering the vaccines to young kids.
“We are affirmatively recommending against doing COVID vax for young kids, particularly the 6-month-old, the 2-year-old little kids,” he said at a press conference.
Florida is the only state in the nation not to submit a request for the vaccines for kids 6 months to 5 years, a decision that critics say could delay availability for Sunshine State residents.
Its health department has chosen to have parents seek doses from their personal physicians rather than orchestrate distribution at the state level, the Miami Herald first reported.
“Our department of health has been very clear,” DeSantis said. “These risks outweigh the benefits and we are recommending against. That isn’t the same as banning it. People can access it if they want to.”
The decision has been met with criticism from the governor’s political rivals this week, who asserted that Floridians will face more of a challenge in securing doses.
Charlie Crist, a Democratic hopeful for Florida governor, called it “reckless and irresponsible.”
“Governor DeSantis has once again failed the people of Florida when it comes to protecting them from the pandemic,” Crist said in a statement. “And his latest failure is aimed squarely at our children.”
But DeSantis argued Thursday that young kids are at low risk from COVID-19 and blamed “media hysteria” for stoking parental fear.
“It’s because of a lot of misinformation,” he asserted. “That’s why they are scared. To do an emergency use for a 6-month-old or a 1-year-old simply to placate anxiety — that’s not the standard when you’re doing this. The standard is if this is safe and effective.”
The Food and Drug Administration voted this week to back approval of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for young children, and the agency is expected to formally authorize them shortly.
A version of this report appears on NYPost.com.