President Joe Biden on Tuesday urged Americans to keep politics away from getting children under 5 coronavirus shots after his administration and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis had a falling out over the White House vaccine campaign.
“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 from the White House after touring a COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Washington, D.C. “This is no time for politics. It’s about parents being able to do everything they can to keep their children safe.”
Biden’s comments come as shots in arms for children under 5 starts rolling out across the country. The Food and Drug Administration authorized the shots on Friday, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gave the go-ahead for the last remaining age group to have access to the vaccines over the weekend.
The Biden administration has been working on its campaign to get children under 5 access to the shots for months, offering up 10 million shots for states to pre-order.
But DeSantis, a Republican who has emerged as a possible candidate in the 2024 presidential election, made clear last week that no state resources would go toward getting children under 5 the shots.
“There is 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 at a press conference on Thursday. “That’s not something that we think is appropriate, and so that’s not where we are going to be utilizing our resources.”
The Biden administration confirmed that Florida was the only state that did not pre-order shots made available by the Biden administration for the age group. However, doctors in Florida can place individual orders for the shots with the federal government.
It remains unclear just how many parents will jump on the opportunity to get their young children the shots two years into the pandemic. According to a poll from Kaiser Family Foundation published last month, 18% of parents with kids in the age group will get them vaccinated right away. It’s perhaps not a surprising estimate, given that just 29% of children 5-11 years old are considered fully vaccinated, according to CDC data.