Now that children as young as 6 months old can be vaccinated against COVID-19 in the United States, President Joe Biden has a warning for politicians.
“Let’s be clear: Elected officials shouldn’t get in the way and make it more difficult for parents who want their children to be vaccinated, who want to protect them and those around them. This is no time for politics. It’s about parents being able to do everything they can to keep their children safe,” Biden said at the White House Tuesday.
While the president did not mention Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis by name, his remarks made after touring a COVID-19 vaccination clinic for children under 5 years old appeared to be aimed at the potential GOP presidential candidate who has said he is “affirmatively against the COVID vaccine for young kids.”
Florida is the only state in the nation that did not preorder the scaled-down doses of Pfizer and Moderna vaccine, which received final federal approval over the weekend. A Florida Department of Health spokesman said the decision was made not to participate because “the department does not recommend it for all children.”
But Florida’s governor appeared to reverse what The Washington Post characterized in an editorial as “an astoundingly callous move,” agreeing last Friday to allow pediatricians and other health care providers in Florida to order the vaccines.
DeSantis denied he changed course, telling the Post, “we have never held the position that the state would prohibit health care providers from ordering the vaccine. We have always maintained the position that the State of Florida has chosen not to be involved in the preordering or distribution of the vaccine for children under 5.”
In Utah, the final age group eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine started getting shots Tuesday at the Salt Lake Public Health Center downtown as well as other Salt Lake County Health Department vaccination clinics, part of the more than 32,000 doses for children as young as 6 months old ordered by the Utah Department of Health.
Biden called the availability of the vaccine to infants, toddlers and young children “a very historic milestone, a monumental step forward. The United States is now the first country in the world to offer safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines for children as young as 6 months old.”
He urged parents “to make a plan to get your child vaccinated” and bring any questions to their health care providers, noting that for “the first time in our fight against this pandemic, nearly every American can now have access to lifesaving vaccines. And we’re ready.”
At the Washington, D.C., COVID-19 vaccination clinic the president toured before his remarks, CNN reported he told parents, “Relief, isn’t it? Being able to do it?” Stopping to talk with one young girl, Biden said, “This is a great place for you all,” and promised, “We’re going to beat this thing. You’ll be able to go anywhere you want.”
Some 10 million doses of the vaccines were made available by the Biden administration for preorder by states, community health centers and federal pharmacy partners, including Walgreens and CVS. People can locate where the vaccine is available near them by going to vaccines.gov.