‘The White House is lying about it’: DeSantis denies claims Florida reversed course on child vaccine

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Centers for Disease Control Prevention has now given the green light to COVID vaccines for children aged 6 months to 5 years old, and doses are shipping out across the country.

Florida is the only state in the nation not to pre-order the shots. On Friday, the White House claimed the state had reversed itself by allowing hospitals and doctors to order vaccines for themselves, but Florida’s governor says that was a lie.

>>> STREAM ACTION NEWS JAX LIVE <<<

[DOWNLOAD: Free Action News Jax app for alerts as news breaks]

From the moment the White House made that claim, it wasn’t clear exactly how Florida had changed its policy.

Gov. Ron DeSantis had said doctors and hospitals could order the vaccine the day before.

It appeared the only change Friday was that the Food and Drug Administration had approved the shots, and so orders began coming in.

During a stop in Callahan Monday morning, Action News Jax asked the governor what he thought about the White House claiming the state had reversed course.

“The White House is lying about it,” said DeSantis.

Read: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announces millions that will expand Nassau County infrastructure

DeSantis said the state has had the same policy dating back to the spring, when it first recommended against the vaccine for children aged 5 to 11.

“We were the first state to recommend against 6 to 11-year-olds. We never had any state programs for any of that,” said DeSantis.

The White House’s claim on Friday spurred multiple headlines suggesting the state had caved to political pressure on child vaccines.

“Not surprised the White House would lie. Definitely not surprised that legacy media would amplify the lie, because that’s what they do,” said DeSantis.

Even Nikki Fried, agriculture commissioner and Democratic gubernatorial candidate, acknowledged that the state had not changed its policy in her own press conference on vaccines for children Monday.

“It wasn’t a reverse of course of decision-making. It was that they were trying to manage the chaos,” said Fried.

Fried went on to criticize the governor’s handling of last week’s confusion, characterizing the state’s decision not to pre-order doses of the vaccine as an attempt to make parents think the vaccine wouldn’t be available at all.

“The entire ordeal appears to have been an intentional attempt to create chaos and confusion,” said Fried.

Read: Court rejects injunction in Florida congressional map redistricting fight

In reality, the vaccines will not be available only at state and local health departments.

Fried also criticized the state’s decision to recommend against the shots for children, saying DeSantis and Florida’s surgeon general are ignoring all mainstream health guidance.

“This is part of a (continued) and concerted effort by the governor and his anti-science surgeon general to push dangerous conspiracy theories over proven public health measures in an attempt to take away parents’ rights to make their own decisions... for their children’s health with their own doctors,” said Fried.

DeSantis doubled down on the Florida Department of Health’s decision to recommend against the vaccine for children and questioned the clinical data relied on by the FDA and CDC to authorize the vaccine for young children.

“These regulatory agencies in the federal government have basically become subsidiaries of the pharmaceutical companies. They are not independent regulators. They basically are there to rubber-stamp what Pfizer wants to do,” said DeSantis.

He said the trials had small sample sizes and didn’t account for natural immunity.

“Quite frankly, if someone wants to make a different decision, I would just caution people. Look at the actual data in the clinical trials. It is the weakest possible data that you could possibly see,” said DeSantis.

Dr. Randy Thornton, a Jacksonville pediatrician, told us Friday that the mixed messaging from federal and state officials is not only adding to vaccine hesitancy among parents for the COVID shot, but other vaccines as well.

Read: Glynn County drops 264 speeding tickets over testing lapse

“But it’s not just COVID.... parents are now taking this as, ‘Maybe I’ll think twice about getting my measles shot or my DPT vaccine,’” said Thornton.

As of mid-day Monday, officials with the Florida Department of Health told us roughly 24,000 doses of the vaccine had been ordered by Florida-based providers.

On Friday, the White House said doses will arrive in Florida days later than in other states that did preorder the shots. On Monday, however, the Florida Department of Health told us it doesn’t expect any shipping delays.

If you’re looking to get your child vaccinated, federal pharmacy and retail pharmacy partners, including Walmart, Publix, Winn Dixie, Harris Teeter, Kroger, Walgreens, CVS, Sam’s Club and Costco, can provide the vaccine.

You can also get the vaccine from pediatricians and hospitals.

[SIGN UP: Action News Jax Daily Headlines Newsletter]

Click here to download the free Action News Jax news and weather apps, click here to download the Action News Jax Now app for your smart TV and click here to stream Action News Jax live.