JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Federal regulators could approve COVID-19 vaccines for kids younger than 5 by the end of the week.
For most states, that means shots could be available as early as next week, but that might not be the case in Florida.
Florida is the only state that hasn’t preordered COVID-19 vaccines for young children.
It missed a Tuesday deadline to order the shots, according to a report from the Miami Herald.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said some in Florida who want the shots won’t be able to get them as early as people in other states.
“If they’re not pre-ordering, it will make it harder for them,” Jean-Pierre said. “That’s why we continue to, on several occasions, encourage Florida to do this.”
Other states could get them as early as Monday.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said during a news conference in Miami on Thursday that the state still has a surplus of vaccines from earlier in the pandemic and won’t be organizing any state programs to give shots to children under 5 years old.
“That’s not something that we think is appropriate,” DeSantis said. “So that’s not (how) we’re going to be utilizing our resources in that regard.”
The Florida Department of Health has released a statement, saying it has made it clear to the federal government that states do not need to be involved in what it calls a convoluted vaccine distribution process.
It goes on to say the federal government has a “track record of developing inconsistent and unsustainable COVID-19 policies.”
Florida Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo has recommended against vaccinating healthy children.
He said he feels the risks outweigh the benefits.
Many doctors disagree. One of those, Dr. Mobeen Rathore, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at UF Health, joined us on The Morning Show on Thursday to discuss the effectiveness of booster shots and how the COVID-19 vaccine for children will work.
An FDA panel of experts unanimously approved two vaccines on Wednesday.
Moderna’s would be two shots for children between 6 months and 4 years old.
Pfizer’s would be three shots for kids 6 months to 5 years old.
The FDA is meeting Friday and Saturday to make a final ruling.
This comes as Duval County is seeing its highest numbers of COVID-19 cases since February.
Right now, the county is averaging about 319 cases a day.
Hospitals are seeing a spike in activity as 120 people are hospitalized currently, which is a 28% jump from two weeks ago.
Here’s a breakdown of local hospitals’ current ICU capacities, according to data from the New York Times:
- UF Health: 85%
- Memorial Hospital: 69%
- Baptist Medical Jacksonville: 73%
- Ascension St. Vincent’s Riverside: 63%
The Florida Department of Health says individual doctors are still able to place orders for the vaccines.