Watch: Biden Swipes At DeSantis With Renewed Vaccine Push

By Seth Cutler | Thursday, 23 June 2022 16:45
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President Joe Biden issued a hidden rebuke of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis Tuesday while praising the COVID-19 vaccines made available for young children.

Children as young as 6 months old started getting COVID-19 vaccinations on Tuesday. Biden bragged about his administration’s extensive road map for getting shots in children's arms while visiting a Washington, D.C., vaccination site, where he met with parents and young children. The federal government has already made 10 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech's and Moderna’s pediatric vaccines available to states for preorder, but Florida opted out.

DeSantis, who often casts himself as a foil to Biden, declared last week that the state was firmly against getting the vaccines to children under 5 despite approval by the Food and Drug Administration.

“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 and want to protect them and those around them,” Biden said.

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Facing intimidation from the federal government and medical professionals, DeSantis on Friday began to allow pediatricians, children’s hospitals, and other physicians to order vaccines. The Biden administration made the 10 million doses available for preorder over the past month in two tranches of 5 million. Because orders from Florida healthcare providers were only allowed to go out on Friday, the first shipments of vaccines will not make it to the state for at least a week.

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“This is no time for politics. It's about parents being able to do everything they can to keep their children safe,” Biden said.

The FDA’s panel of experts voted together last week to pass authorization of pediatric vaccines, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gave the final stamp of approval over the weekend.

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“Finally, some peace of mind,” Biden said. “This is a very historic milestone, a monumental step forward … For the first time in our fight against this pandemic, nearly every American can now have access to life-saving vaccines, and we're ready.”

Healthcare workers began administering shots to young children on Tuesday. The United States is one of only a handful of countries currently vaccinating children under 5, along with Argentina, China, Cuba, and Venezuela.

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Children are much less likely to experience severe COVID-19 infection than older adults. But severe outcomes among children happen. The vast majority of children under 11 — over 75%, according to CDC estimates — have antibodies conferred through previous exposure to the virus over the past two years that offer some protection against severe illness. Still, the omicron wave sent more children to the hospital than any previous wave caused by another variant. As of June 2, 783 children ranging in age from under 1 year old to 14 had died due to COVID-19, according to CDC data.

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