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Fried says Florida's inaction on vaccines for toddlers creates 'chaos and confusion'

Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried spoke at a press conference in Orlando Tuesday. Image: Facebook video
Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried spoke at a press conference in Orlando Tuesday. Image: Facebook video

Speaking in Orlando Tuesday, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried said Florida’s decision not to pre-order COVID-19 vaccines for infants and toddlers has created "chaos and confusion."

Fried said her department's website will add a search tool to help parents of young children find the vaccine in Florida and urged parents to visit vaccines.gov.

The FDA has authorized Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for children ages 6 months to 4 years old. The CDC is recommending those vaccines.

Commissioner Fried, who is seeking to run against Gov. Ron DeSantis in November, said the state's decision not to pre-order will likely cause delays. And she says failing to provide the shots at health departments impacts low-income families.

"Not only is the Florida Department of Health recommending against COVID vaccines for our kids, against all mainstream public health guidance, the governor is trying to take away parents' rights and access to vaccines to protect their children," Fried said.

The Department of Health insists the vaccines for young children will be available -- thanks to the federal government -- at many retail pharmacies, community health centers and doctor's offices.

Walgreens has appointments for children 3 and older. And CVS Minute Clinics will have shots for kids as young as 18 months.

Publix isn’t offering those shots.

Orlando Health isn’t either. It is, quote, “evaluating the demand,” according to an emailed statement. AdventHealth is referring parents to retail pharmacies.

Joe Byrnes came to WMFE/WMFV from the Ocala Star-Banner and The Gainesville Sun, where he worked as a reporter and editor for several years. Joe graduated from Loyola University in New Orleans and turned to journalism after teaching. He enjoys freshwater fishing and family gatherings.