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Florida isn't ordering doses of the COVID vaccine for children under the age of 5

SACHA PFEIFFER, HOST:

Advisers to the CDC and the CDC's director are expected to give final approval this weekend to long-awaited COVID vaccines for children as young as 6 months old. But there's one state, Florida, that doesn't plan to make those vaccines available to hospitals, pharmacies or doctors. NPR's Greg Allen reports from Miami.

GREG ALLEN, BYLINE: Florida is the only state that hasn't pre-ordered the new vaccines like they did for every previous version. Governor Ron DeSantis says doctors, pharmacies and hospitals can get it on their own. But DeSantis, an outspoken critic of the CDC and the Biden administration, questions whether the vaccine should even be approved at all.

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RON DESANTIS: To do an emergency use for a 6-month-old or a 1-year-old simply to placate anxiety, that's not the standard when you're doing this.

ALLEN: In March, DeSantis' surgeon general, Joseph Ladapo, said he believed the risks of administering the vaccine may outweigh the benefits for children and adolescents 17 and under. This week, he said that applies to younger children as well.

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JOSEPH LADAPO: From what I've seen, there is just insufficient data to inform benefits and risks in children.

ALLEN: Guidance issued by Ladapo and the Department of Health for parents and doctors cites a number of studies, including one co-authored by Kathryn Edwards. She's a pediatrics professor at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. She says Florida officials, in her words, cherry-picked information and data to support their conclusion.

KATHRYN EDWARDS: I think it's really unfortunate that a governor and medical officials in a state decide that they have greater knowledge than experts in vaccinology and pediatrics.

ALLEN: An FDA panel this week looked at all the studies and concluded that the benefits of the vaccines outweigh the risks. They say it will help protect children from the worst outcomes associated with the coronavirus.

It's not clear yet what Florida not ordering vaccines means for parents and young children in the state, but Edwards says any obstacle makes it more difficult and worries now that will increase the number of children in Florida who will not be vaccinated.

Greg Allen, NPR News, Miami. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

As NPR's Miami correspondent, Greg Allen reports on the diverse issues and developments tied to the Southeast. He covers everything from breaking news to economic and political stories to arts and environmental stories. He moved into this role in 2006, after four years as NPR's Midwest correspondent.