An advisory panel for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention voted this week to recommend that mRNA COVID-19 vaccines be added to the immunization schedule for children, and several Republican-led states immediately expressed their opposition to that controversial decision.
That would include Florida, where Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) announced that, at least under his watch, COVID vaccines would never be made mandatory for children in the Sunshine State, the Tampa Free Press reported.
CDC to add COVID vaccines to the childhood immunization schedule
NBC News reported on Thursday that the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices had voted unanimously to add COVID vaccines, plus booster shots, to the recommended schedule of immunizations for children and adults.
That recommendation, which will almost certainly be formally adopted by the CDC, is not a mandate in and of itself, though it will have that effect in many state and local jurisdictions.
That is because the CDC’s recommended immunization schedule is widely viewed as the “gold standard” to which state and local jurisdictions adhere when setting their own vaccination requirements for things like school enrollment or participation in sports leagues.
“As long as I’m kicking and screaming …”
The COVID shots won’t be made mandatory in Florida, at least not so long as Gov. DeSantis is in charge, the Free Press noted, as the governor himself revealed during a speech that he delivered on Thursday.
As long as I am Governor, in Florida there will not be a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for children in our schools. pic.twitter.com/oDXAj3c4Oy
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) October 20, 2022
“There’s been a lot of questions to our office about the CDC potentially adding COVID vaccines to the childhood immunization schedule,” DeSantis said. “And I know a lot of parents are concerned about that, because if that’s on the immunization schedule, the fear is that schools could potentially mandate your child to get a COVID shot even if that’s not something you want to do.”
“So I just want to let everyone be clear — as long as I’m around, as long as I’m kicking and screaming, there will be no COVID shot mandates for your kids,” he continued. “That is your decision to make as a parent.”
COVID shots not recommended for children in Sunshine State
“These are new shots,” DeSantis said and noted that he gets “a kick out of” some people comparing them to decades-old and well-proven vaccinations like those for measles, mumps, and rubella. He further pointed out that “most parents” in Florida have rejected COVID shots for their young children and how the state’s surgeon general has recommended against COVID shots for children, mostly due to the lack of any “proven benefit” but also because of the elevated risk of adverse side effects.
Indeed, before the CDC panel’s vote, Florida Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo tweeted, “Regardless of what @CDCgov votes tomorrow on whether COVID-19 vax are added to routine child immunizations – nothing changes in FL. Thanks to @GovRonDeSantis, COVID mandates are NOT allowed in FL, NOT pushed into schools, & I continue to recommend against them for healthy kids.
“But, it’s a free state, parents can make the other decision, if that’s what they want,” the governor added in his speech. “The important thing is, is that school districts are not mandating this choice.”