DeSantis Says White House Lied When It Claimed He 'Reversed Course' on COVID-19 Policy

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June 20, 2022

Florida governor Ron DeSantis (R.) said the White House and media outlets lied about Florida's health policies when they claimed he "reversed course" by permitting health care providers to order COVID-19 vaccines for children under the age of five.

"Not surprised the White House would lie, definitely not surprised that legacy media would amplify the lie because that’s what they do," DeSantis said during a Monday news conference. 

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on Friday said that after "repeated failures" to order vaccines, DeSantis "reversed course" and decided to allow health care providers to order the shots for children between six months old and five. But Florida surgeon general Dr. Joseph Ladapo said the state has always allowed providers to place orders for vaccines. DeSantis said Thursday that Florida discourages COVID vaccination for young children and would not place orders for the vaccine to be distributed to them, but the state would not block providers from acquiring it themselves.

"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. "That's not where we're going to be utilizing our resources."

Florida is the only state in the country that did not place advance orders for the pediatric vaccines, a position media outlets including Forbes, CBS News, and McClatchy DC claimed DeSantis reversed after Jean-Pierre's comments on Friday. DeSantis’s approach to infant vaccination mirrors that of Scandinavian countries including Sweden, which decided not to recommend vaccinating children under 11 due to the "low risk for serious disease for kids," and Denmark and Norway, which do not offer vaccines to children under five. 

The Food and Drug Administration approved Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna’s vaccines for children five and younger on Friday, but only 18 percent of parents are eager for their child under five to receive the vaccine, a Kaiser Family Foundation poll showed. Less than a third of children ages 5-11 have received the vaccine since it became available to them in November.