DeSantis escalates feud with White House

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) is escalating his feud with the White House over the COVID-19 response as he positions himself for a possible presidential campaign in 2024.


DeSantis has been taking heat from infectious diseases experts — as well as state and national Democrats — for his decision not to preorder from the federal government COVID-19 vaccines for infants and young kids.

  • “The state of Florida intentionally missed multiple deadlines to order vaccines to protect its youngest kids,” White House coronavirus response coordinator Ashish Jha told reporters Friday.

The White House initially made 10 million vaccines for young children available for states to preorder.


Having a small stockpile of doses on hand meant shots can start being administered as early as June 20, if states were able to distribute them quickly enough.


But Florida was the only state that decided not to place an order.


No middleman: The argument from state officials was twofold:

  • According to DeSantis, kids aren’t at risk of getting seriously sick. The state’s not going to expend resources on something that isn’t needed.
  • The Health Department said they’re not going to be the Biden administration’s warehouse for unused vaccines. If a pediatrician’s office or hospital wants the shots, they can place an order through the official state website.

Picking fights: DeSantis has spent much of the pandemic attacking the Biden administration’s COVID-19 mitigation efforts.


The Sunshine State’s governor has made it a point of pride to question and challenge a range of federal guidance, repeatedly promoting the “freedom” of a state without policies such as mask or vaccine mandates.