‘Self-serving’: Parents, health care advocates criticize GOP leadership on child COVID-19 vaccinations

Kid Vaccine
'Governor DeSantis took away their choice — just to score some political points.'

A group of parents joined health care advocates Wednesday afternoon to share their challenges to accessing COVID-19 vaccines for their children, pointing to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ policies that put up barriers to vaccination access for those under 5.

The parents, who were hosted by For Our Future, Protect Our Care and The Common Ground Project, expressed frustration over vaccine accessibility for their children, including some who are immunocompromised.

Michael Womack, the state director of Protect Our Care, slammed the DeSantis administration and Republican leadership for limiting access to vaccinations for children. DeSantis was the only Governor who refused to pre-order vaccines for those under 5. He has also prohibited county health departments from distributing the shots to children.

In March, Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo became the only state Health Department leader in the country to recommend against the use of COVID-19 vaccines for children through age 17.

“They deserve the freedom to make health care choices for their children just like any parent, but when the vaccines finally became available for their children, Gov. DeSantis took away their choice — just to score some political points,” Womack said.

Womack didn’t stop at DeSantis, either. He also took aim at U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, who he said put his “self-serving political interests ahead of what was best for Floridians.”

“Now for Marco Rubio, the only thing that mattered was keeping his party bosses happy. Once again, he was too afraid to do the right thing and everyday Floridians suffered for it,” Womack said.

“Instead of encouraging Floridians to stay safe and helping people get vaccinated during Florida’s worst COVID outbreak last August, Rubio instead flew off to Iowa with the hopes of launching another presidential campaign. This kind of cowardice is nothing new.”

Womack’s criticisms were echoed by the parents at the presser who are upset about the lack of accessibility.

Lisa Perry, of The Common Ground Project, called the Governor’s choice to suppress child vaccinations “neglectful.” Perry, who has an immunocompromised daughter, recently moved to North Carolina after deciding Florida was not a safe state in which to raise her child.

“To see our leadership at the state and federal levels from Florida pushing back and creating barriers, making vaccines available but only to people who can access them — I decided that this wasn’t a state that I could raise my children in safely,” she said. “We have the ability to protect our children now. And to create barriers is just — it’s inexcusable. And quite frankly, I think it’s pretty neglectful.”

Perry also acknowledged it’s not feasible for many people to relocate, calling the state’s response a “failure to serve our most vulnerable populations.”

“A lot of this is political intention. These folks want to run for President and they think they can lead the country but they can’t even protect the most vulnerable children in the state of Florida,” she said.

Catherine Bulka, a parent who recently moved to Florida, expressed concern over finding a provider nearby that will give her youngest a second shot in the Moderna series. Bulka said she had to call 15-20 pharmacies to find one where her 10-month-old was eligible for a vaccination. She eventually found one in Englewood — over 90 miles away from her home. Now, she’s struggling to find a place closer to home for her baby to receive a second dose.

“It’s just the same frustration all over again,” Bulka said. “On the one hand, I’m kind of shocked that we’re this far into the pandemic and it’s like, how are we not doing a better job yet? But it also tracks very much with my experience of kids under 5 just being totally ignored throughout this whole thing.”

Notably, the anti-vaccine rhetoric from the DeSantis administration marks a decisive shift compared to last year, when it aggressively distributed vaccines, first making them available to older Floridians and eventually all individuals authorized to receive the vaccine by the FDA, and less than a year ago boasted about the effectiveness of its vaccine distribution strategy.

Kelly Hayes

Kelly Hayes studied journalism and political science at the University of Florida. Kelly was born and raised in Tampa Bay. A recent graduate, she enjoys government and legal reporting. She has experience covering the Florida Legislature as well as local government, and is a proud Alligator alum. You can reach Kelly at [email protected]


6 comments

  • PeterH

    July 27, 2022 at 4:16 pm

    Once upon a time …..like five minutes ago DeSantis was in favor of parental rights.

    Stay tuned tomorrow will bring more hypocrisy!

    It is the responsibility and duty of all Americans who can think for themselves….. to vote DeSantis and all Republicans out of office.

    Reply

  • Brandon

    July 27, 2022 at 5:27 pm

    Maybe if these parents stop whining and complaining and pick up the phone to set an appointment to jab their kid this would not be an issue.

    Reply

  • Sandra DeLeo

    July 29, 2022 at 12:27 pm

    How much are the Dems paying you out of that 44 million they invested to ruin the opponents? He is in favor of parental rights in the school system, and half of the CDC resigned over the Feds giving vaccines to children younger than 5 years old. Have you no decency look what is happening in this Country we are bearly able to afford food, the US is a mess.

    Reply

  • SandiD

    July 29, 2022 at 12:30 pm

    How much are the Dems paying you out of that 44 million they invested to ruin the opponents? He is in favor of parental rights in the school system, and half of the CDC resigned over the Feds giving vaccines to children younger than 5 years old. Have you no decency look what is happening in this Country we are bearly able to afford food, the US is a mess.

    Reply

  • Willie Screwneck

    July 31, 2022 at 12:36 pm

    Why would anyone want to give a perfectly healthy 5-year-old a shot that has now been proven harmful? It attacks human antibodies, can cause clotting in the blood, and god only knows what else. A judge had to force Pfizer and Moderna to produce their clinical testing proving that they lied about those clinical studies and that their efficacy was nowhere near 90 and 95% but was more near 0%.

    Reply

  • George T Downs

    August 6, 2022 at 5:14 pm

    The idiocy of the general public is beyond my comprehension! So anxious to poison their defenseless children despite the current knowledge of Vaccine Deaths and long-term debilitating illnesses. Get off the corrupt MSM that has been fearmongering for over two and a half years. The Billions of dollars from BigPharma over that period don’t affect their reporting. The plandemic was a scam from the get-go! As many as 500,000 (they manipulated the dates to exclude the time period when vaccine deaths were the highest while blaming Covid for those deaths) in America can be attributed to NOT a vaccine at all, but a gene-altering drug concoction in the most extensive experiment the world has ever seen.

    CDC charts show the truth that no one ever sees. Shameful Drs keeping known cures from sick patients while administering harmful, deadly drugs.

    Young, healthy athletes don’t die from heart attacks, but now they do!
    FLCCC group is saving lives every day; check it out!

    Reply

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