‘Don’t spread misinfo’: DeSantis takes on Biden White House over 5-and-under COVID-19 vaccines

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s longstanding feud with the Biden White House over the state’s response to COVID-19 got kicked up a notch as DeSantis remains firm in his decision not to preorder COVID-19 vaccines for infants and young children from the federal government.

Noting that kids have “practically zero risk” of becoming seriously ill from the virus, the governor vowed the Sunshine State’s resources will not be used to jab babies.

“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 said at a Thursday press conference. “That’s not where we’re gonna be utilizing our resources.”

The crowd erupted in applause, but back at the White House, officials attacked the outspoken governor, claiming he was denying parents of the right “to protect its youngest kids.”

“The state of Florida intentionally missed multiple deadlines to order vaccines to protect its youngest kids,” White House coronavirus response coordinator Ashish Jha declared to reporters on Friday. “Now, despite repeated efforts to reach out and engage officials in the state of Florida, elected officials deliberately chose to delay taking action to deny Florida parents the choice whether to vaccinate their children or not.”

Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo, head of the state’s Department of Health, has shared publicly his skepticism when it comes to the safety and benefits of the experimental COVID-19 vaccines, the Daily Hill reports. Sharing the same fearless approach to COVID as the governor who appointed him, Ladapo’s DOH issued a guidance in March advising against vaccines for healthy 5- to 17-year-olds — the first state in the nation to do so. Citing potential risks, the guidance said children in that age group “may not benefit from receiving the currently available COVID-19 vaccine.”

DeSantis implied there just wasn’t enough testing to ensure their safety for kids.

It’s a sentiment shared by Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who, earlier this week, blasted White House Chief Medical Advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci — who had himself just tested positive for the virus, in spite of his many boosters — over the lack of data to support the efficacy of the vaccines to reduce hospitalizations or deaths for children.

“You can’t answer the question I asked,” Paul, who is a medical doctor, said. “The question I asked is, how many kids are dying, and how many kids are going to the hospital who’ve already had COVID? The answer may be zero. But you’re not even giving us the data. Because you have so much wanted to protect everybody from all the data. Because we are not smart enough to look at the data.”

“I would say we are affirmatively against the COVID vaccine for young kids,” DeSantis told reporters. “These are the people who have zero risk of getting anything.”

“Our Department of Health has been very clear, the risk outweighs the benefits and we recommend against it,” he said, adding that, despite the recommendation, hospitals and doctors are free to order what they feel they need.

Any provider who wants doses of the vaccine will be able to get them without delay, according to the state’s DOH.

Florida’s was simply opting out of the “convoluted” federal distribution program, he explained, “especially when the federal government has a track record of developing inconsistent and unsustainable COVID-19 policies.”

In an attempt to ensnare DeSantis in a “gotcha” moment, the White House then implied that DeSantis had caved to public outcries and would now be allowing pediatricians to order the vaccines.

“Yesterday, pediatricians in every state in the country could order vaccines or had the opportunity to order vaccines for their offices, except for pediatricians of Florida,” said Jha. “As of today, pediatricians in Florida now have that choice.”

As Jha presumably understood that nothing had actually changed in Florida and pediatricians had always been free to order the vax, Jha hedged his comment.

“Whether that’s a reversal or not, I will leave up to you to decide,” he said. “But something clearly changed between yesterday and today in the state of Florida.”

On Twitter, DeSantis spokesperson Christina Pushaw stomped out “misinfo” fires.

“The White House @PressSec & @McClatchyDC are both spreading disinformation,” she tweeted in a lengthy thread. “NOTHING has ‘reversed’ or changed. The State of Florida is not placing any orders of covid shots for 0-5 year old babies & kids.”

“What they have couched as a reversal is actually the Governor’s steadfast position that the State of Florida does not recommend nor distribute shots for babies,” she continued. “Any healthcare provider that wants the vaccines can obtain them and any parent who wants it for their child can get it.”

“No state policy change in Florida,” she stressed. “The only that’s changed was the federal government (FDA) issued the EUA  [Emergency Use Authorization] for the shots today. Obviously, there must be FDA approval or an EUA for the system to process orders from healthcare providers.”

“Retract your lies,” Pushaw demanded.

To back her tweets, she included a tweet from Dr. Ladapo, in which he stated, “FL never ‘reversed course,” and reaffirmed his claim that “there was no strong evidence of benefit.”

“This never changed,” he said.

Pushaw went so far as to accuse the U.S. Surgeon General, Jerome Adams, of spreading fake news in a tweet that perpetuates the notion that Florida was limiting the rights of its residents to obtain a vaccine.

“I try to steer clear of weighing in on State decisions, but don’t see how people who feel states shouldn’t force vaccines can defend FL’s denial of them,” Adams said. “My body… your choice?”

“FACT CHECK:” Pushaw shot back, stating yet again that “nobody who wants the shots is being ‘denied.'”

“Doctors can order directly if they want,” she said. “Don’t spread misinfo @JeromeAdamsMD.”

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