He made the remarks after CDC Director Rochelle Walensky stated that she had endorsed the approval of the vaccine for this lower age-group, and criticism ensued against Florida, which did not put in an order for the vaccine for Florida kids.
DeSantis answered a question from a reporter, who asked "There's a lot of controversies, the end of last week, between your administration and the White House. What do you make of the White House saying the state reversed on child vaccines?"
"So the White House is lying about it," DeSantis said, "surprise. Not surprised the White House would lie, definitely not surprised that legacy media would amplify the lie, because that's what they do. The State of Florida— they came out with an article saying the State of Florida, its Department of Health, has not ordered mRNA jabs for the babies. Yes, we didn't. We recommend against it. We are not gonna have any programs where we're trying to jab 6-month-olds with mRNA, that's just not the reality."
"And I think what happened was, they thought somehow that we would be embarrassed by that, no. We're following the data," DeSantis said.
He cited data, too, from European countries that have not authorized vaccine doses for their youngest citizens. While the state has not ordered the vaccines, DeSantis said, doctors and hospitals are able to do that as they see fit. This, the White House and others claimed, was a reversal, but DeSantis never prohibited doctors and hospitals from doing as they see fit.
He cautioned, however, for people to look at the data in the clinical trial. "It is the weakest possible data that you could possibly see. Very small number of people, what the recommendation is from them, doesn't even track the outcomes." He said that was "no proven benefit to put a baby with an mRNA."
"We're confident that people can make their own judgements," he said, noting that the recommendation is to give the mRNA shot to "young babies and kids who have already recovered from Covid," and that there was no data on the efficacy of that.
DeSantis slammed the White House for touting that the US is the "first" country giving shots to this younger age group, saying that it was not necessary, and other nations know it, too.
As to the White House's recommendations, he said "they were wrong" in a variety of areas, from having schools closed, businesses closed, and other restrictions. He claimed that the White House and government agencies have basically "become subsidiaries of the pharmaceutical industry. They are not independent regulators, they are basically there to rubber stamp what Pfizer wants to do."
"We have not ordered any for the Department of Health, there has been zero change in our recommendations," DeSantis said. Most parents, he said, are not giving the mRNA vaccine to their kids in Florida.
The New Yorker mentioned the "criticism" in an article on Monday by Dexter Filkins where he wrote, "This month, as vaccines were approved for children younger than five, every state in the country rushed to order supplies—except for Florida, where DeSantis resisted until he was overwhelmed by criticism."
The Governor's Press Secretary Christina Pushaw addressed the issue on Twitter by posting the article and writing, "This is a blatant lie from Dexter Filkins at @NewYorker. They did NOT fact-check this story- neither with our office, nor FL Dept of Health. Governor DeSantis’ & State of Florida’s position on child Covid vaccines HAS NOT CHANGED. And he’s never been 'overwhelmed by criticism.'"
DeSantis' position that young children do not need to be vaccinated is consistent, his administration claims, with the data that shows children are not dying en masse from the disease. DeSantis has described the data as "weak" and has recommended against the vaccination for children under 5 but has not prohibited it. According to the CDC, 143 children aged 1-4 died with Covid-19 between January 1, 2020 and May 28, 2022.
On Monday Dr. Marty Makary summarized Rochelle Walensky''s decision to push for vaccination by writing "A more honest announcement would have been: We approved the vax for babies & toddlers based on very little data."
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