Forty-nine states, plus the District of Columbia, have ordered supplies of COVID-19 vaccines, which will be delivered for use in children under 5 years old. The exception is Florida. Ron DeSantis, the most vaccine-skeptical governor in America, refused to participate.
DeSantis spokesman Jeremy Redfern explains that this is not an omission. The state is not accepting vaccine doses because DeSantis does not think it should take it. “It is also no surprise we chose not to participate in distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine when the Department does not recommend it for all children,” Redfern tells McClatchy. “Doctors can order vaccines if they are in need, and there are currently no orders in the Department’s ordering system for the COVID-19 vaccine for this age group.”
“Our Department of Health has been very clear. The risks [of children taking a vaccine] outweigh the benefits,” DeSantis told reporters. Florida will not ban the vaccine, but it also will not accept free supplies of the vaccine from the federal government or take steps to promote or distribute them.
DeSantis has won over anti-vaccine activists with his relentless promotion of anti-science kooks. DeSantis’s pro-vaccine conservative supporters, embarrassed by these tactics, have pretended that DeSantis merely opposes vaccine mandates out of libertarian principle. This defense has been blown up over and over by repeated anti-vaccine steps DeSantis has taken that have nothing to do with mandates: most notably, refusing to say if he is getting a booster shot and appointing a vaccine skeptic as his state’s top health official.
Here is another example. Buying up vaccine supplies and distributing them for free is not the same as mandating a vaccine. DeSantis is not anti-mandate. Indeed, his pattern of authoritarian behavior in recent months has made it perfectly clear he is not a philosophical critic of state power at all. He is against mandating behavior he opposes, and he is for mandating behavior he supports.
DeSantis is not a mandate skeptic. He is a vaccine skeptic.