As covid infections from the Omicron-21 variant continue to rise in Flagler County, Gov. Ron DeSantis and his administration were issuing conflicting statements about ordering vaccines for children under 5. DeSantis and his administration aggressively derided the option on Thursday, then backtracked somewhat on Friday.
Last week the Flagler County Health Department reported 223 confirmed infections. This week the number is up to 317, a number that sharply undercounts the real level of infections. “Because of the home testing that’s happening, there’s no obligation or system in place for those results to be reported to the Department of Health,” Flagler Health Department director Bob Snyder said. “Our estimate is that, that 317, it’s really three to four times that in terms of prevalence in the community.”
Outbreaks were reported at four local assisted living facilities or nursing homes. Four staffers and one patient were infected at Grand Oaks, a total of 35 individuals–22 residents and 13 staffers–were infected at Flagler Health and Rehab, eight residents and three staffers were infected at Brookdale Assisted Living, and nine residents were infected at Tuscan Gardens. The case reports date back to May 27 and May 30 at Grand Oaks and Flagler Health and rehab, and to June 6 and 7 and the other two facilities.
Today AdventHealth Palm Coast was reporting 13 patients admitted with a primary diagnosis of Covid. And after a hiatus of a month and a half without a recorded death from Covid in Flagler, those numbers are again rising, with a total of 363 since the pandemic began, up by four in the last two weeks.
While at least a third of people who get Covid are not symptomatic, the most common symptoms with the Omicron 21 variant are fever, runny nose and congestion, excessive fatigue, aches and pains and sore throat–but not loss of taste as often as was the case with Delta and previous variants, Snyder said.
Omicron is less virulent but still dangerous, especially for people with underlying conditions and for the elderly. Children are not immune. MOre than 30,000 children under 5 years old have been hospitalized with Covid, and nearly 500 have died from it, according to Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy.
In Florida, 67 children have died from Covid, including 18 who were younger than 5, 16 who were between 5 and 11, and 33 who were between 12 and 17, according to Health Department data.
The Food and Drug Administration today authorized both the two-shot Moderna and three-shot Pfizer vaccines for the nation’s 20 million children who are 6 months old and under 5. The Centers for Disease Control is still meeting today and tomorrow before issuing its recommendation.
Pfizer says two shots of its vaccine are only 28 percent effective in preventing disease, and 80 percent effective when a third shot is given, though it bases that information on trials involving less than 1,700 participants, a relatively low number. And there were questions from FDA evaluators about the 80 percent figure’s reliability, according to The New York Times. Moderna places its vaccine’s effectiveness at 51 percent for children 6 months old to 2 years old, and 37 percent for children 2 to 5. The FDA says the vaccine helps prevent more severe cases of covid, especially for children with underlying conditions.
DeSantis said Thursday that Florida would not dedicate any state resources to give “jabs” to younger children, essentially barring local health departments to do what they’ve been doing since the vaccine roll-out–provide vaccines to anyone who asked and who was eligible.
“Our department of health has been very clear, the risks outweigh the benefits, and we recommend against. That’s not the same as banning it, I mean people can access it if they want to,” DeSantis said at a press conference. Pharmacies, for example, would have the vaccine. “But there’s not going to be any state programs that are going to be trying to, you know, get Covid jabs to infants and toddlers and newborns. That’s not something that we think is appropriate, and so that’s not where we’re going to be utilizing our resources in that regard.”
In light of the confirmed number of hospitalizations and deaths among children younger than 5, DeSantis was grossly inaccurate when he claimed that the risks outweighed the benefits. Dr. Katherine Fleming-Dutra, a CDC researcher who presented data at today’s evaluation meeting, said the ongoing omicron surge has led to a record number of hospitalization of children in the 6 month old to 4 year old category, half of them with no underlying conditions.
“Unvaccinated people 5 and older had 10 times the risk of dying of Covid-19, compared with those who received at least two shots of the vaccine,” The Times said, citing figures presented by Dr. Matthew Daley, a senior investigator at Kaiser Permanente Colorado and the leader of the CDC’s vaccine working group. The figures “provide real world-evidence that most deaths from Covid-19 are preventable through vaccination,” he was quoted as saying.
Still, DeSantis derided the reason parents are frightened about Covid for their children, blaming “media hysteria” and “misinformation,” even as he was himself framing his perspective on the vaccine for children in little less than hysterics and misinformation. But it’s been DeSantis’s approach going back to a few months after the vaccine rollout, when he shifted focus from prevention to a “freedom” agenda that amounts to indifference to, contempt for, or ban against covid-safety measures, including such things as vaccine mandates or recommendations.
Florida Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo has opposed vaccinating all children 17 and younger, and has been a vaccine skeptic overall. Local health departments have been forced to adopt the dismissive approach, at times against local health administrators’ better judgment.
McClatchy newspapers reported that Florida, alone among 50 states, had skipped pre-ordering the vaccine for younger children, a move confirmed by DeSantis in his news conference on Thursday and a statement issued by Jeremy Redfern, the Florida Department of Health’s press secretary, the same day: “States do not need to be involved in the convoluted vaccine distribution process, especially when the federal government has a track record of developing inconsistent and unsustainable COVID-19 policies,” Redfern said. “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.”
Today, the Florida Health Department was backtracking: “Contrary to disinformation circulating, the vaccine ordering process has not changed in Florida. COVID-19 vaccine ordering – including for the 6 month to 5 year age group – has always been available to providers. Following the [FDA’s] Emergency Use Authorization issued today, June 17, 2022, enrolled providers are able to order COVID-19 vaccines for the newest authorized age groups through Florida SHOTS.”
The White House welcomed the reversal.
“We are encouraged that after repeated failures by Governor DeSantis to order COVID-19 vaccines even after every other state had ordered, the State of Florida is now permitting health care providers to order COVID-19 vaccines for our youngest children,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre. said today in a statement. “We believe it is critical to allow parents everywhere to have the choice to get their kids vaccinated and have a conversation with their pediatrician or health care provider.”
Jean-Pierre added: “Even though Governor DeSantis reversed course and is now ordering vaccines, we will pull every lever to get pediatricians across Florida vaccines as quickly as possible. This is an encouraging first step, and we urge the state to order vaccines for its state and local health departments, so that all Florida parents have the opportunity to get their children vaccinated.”
But the Flagler Health Department was not taking any chances. In keeping with the governor’s and the department’s stance against recommending vaccines for younger children, it will not make the vaccine available at its facility in Bunnell, as it does for all those 5 and over.
How many cases of the flu are in the county?
Vaxed Sez says
Your point being…
Vaxed: Walter has no point. Actually, about 300k people world wide die of the flu annually. That doesn’t come close to the statistics of Covid in the US alone, which was 771k in 2021. The US has had over 1,000,000 deaths from Covid, making the common flu incomparable.
The Geode says
Are the kids in the “nursing homes”? That’s odd…
The voice of reason says
What a monster. Talk about throwing minority and poor children under the bus. Reminds me of early in the pandemic when Mr wonderful led a vaccine tour to wealthy republican communities. His poor wife will never be free of cancer as long as he’s anywhere near her. Lastly, thanks for that timely gas tax relief planned or October. This is a creature that lives in a smelly dumpster fire when he’s not camped out on faux news. Seeing or hearing him makes me nauseated.
He’s trying to out-Trump Donald Trump.
Maybe his own kids should be prevented from getting vaccinated. Let them lead the way for Daddy Dearest.
Is he a Dr.? People listen to this dumb jerk. I’m almost sure all of his family are vaccinated and I believe his younger relatives will get the vaccinations for the little kids. Listen to thus jerk if you want to and c your young children die while his children live and thrive. It is your choice. I will not vote for him come Nov. I will vote for a potatoe before I vote for this scarry Trump puppet.
Vaxed Sez says
“Our department of health has been very clear, the risks outweigh the benefits,” according to his lap dog of a Surgeon General who should have had his medical license suspended. Vote!
Happier days says
I am not found of him at all he screwed people that were getting unemployment and did the state return the portion of money back to govt i doubt it, My wife works for a facility and she is scared because she sees the cases increases like crazy, Hate to say this but in fairness unless in flager very little good republicans The Mayor is one of the better ones. Show this year the door in elections Lowe Mullins I dont think Ga will allow Mullins to come back con artist
Timothy Patrick Welch says
The one-world government, federal government, the state government, and my trusted local doctor provide health recommendations.
But, health is a personal choice.
Michael Cocchiola says
No, Timothy, protection from a lethal infectious disease is not a personal choice. Not when you can infect others around you and they, in turn, infect others. And on and on as people die because you and others made a personal choice to avoid vaccines that can limit the damage.
Timothy Patrick Welch says
These vaccines do not prevent transmission, but they might provide a layer of protection in support your immune system response.
Wash your hands…
Micheal: I disagree. I do not believe in a mandate, and firmly do believe that had mandating had not been an issue, more people would have been vaccinated. If there was no mandate, DeSantis would have less to politicize. Same with masks. “It will be gone by Easter” Trump and DeSantis wouldn’t have a political leg to stand on if they couldn’t make a stink about it.
It is a sad commentary on this state that the leadership is so transfixed on dismissing Covid as a non-issue that they are willing to allow young children to not be vaccinated. They actively discourage getting a vaccine and have no evidence to support that position. And the worst part is that the majority of citizens of this state think this guy is a good governor. He is a dictator wanna-be and a disgrace to the state. I just hope he doesn’t get nominated to run for president. He’d be worse than Trump.
Michael Cocchiola says
Can you imagine this sociopathic medical science denier as president? He’s a Trump with more control of the English language. His personal monomania and loyalty to his frenzied core of know-nothing Republicans make him a very dangerous person. Perhaps more dangerous to our democracy than Trump.
Remember this… DeSantis cares nothing for the lives of people of any age. Their sickness and deaths are collateral damage in his ambitious pursuit of the Republican nomination for the 2024 presidential race. We’ll pay for his ambitiom with our lives.
Please vote for sanity in the White House, no matter which political party he or she represents.
Gary R says
We could use some sanity in the White House now. Don’t see it coming anytime soon.
DeSaddist governor in the country is once again playing for his base of uneducated plebes. He knows nothing about the science of immunology or the practice of medicine but he has the gall to ignore FDA and CDC recommendations for no reason other then he thinks it makes him look tough to his base of mindless drones. His false claims that the vaccines do not work led to the needless deaths of thousands in Florida. The man is a menace to a functional, civilized society and needs to be removed as we would any other such vermin.
Personally, I have passed the point of disbelief and now am simply disgusted by those who continue to support this insanity of an administration. He uses the power of his office for personal gain; I dare anyone to list five legitimate things he has done for the betterment of the majority of people of Florida. Please don’t go grabbing any low hanging fruit like the Gay Act, arming teachers or the fight with Disney – those did nothing to help Floridians.
All this does is keep the vaccine out of the hands of the poor while the rich still have access. This is sick behavior meant to hurt the poor.
Timothy Patrick Welch says
All have access to multiple free vaccinations.
This is unprecedented, why has our government provided free vaccinations?
Gary R says
COVID-19 vaccines for kids: What you need to know https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/coronavirus/in-depth/covid-19-vaccines-for-kids/art-20513332
People need to do their own research and then decide.
So, when did we stop teaching our fellow citizens the difference between free speech and irresponsible rhetoric from our government leadership? Fox Entertainment, far right radio and pod casts, Trump, DeSantis, Jordon, Cruz and many others, can spew any kind of sociopathic verbal waste and not only not be thrown in prison for misleading their constituents, even at the risk of their constituents health and well being, but be rewarded for it by reelection.
Wake up, and smell the coffee brewing.
Wow, some of these comments are over the top. Nursing homes are seeing more Covid. Oooooohhh. Older people are more susceptiblet to pretty much anything going around. If you want to get vaccinated do so. If you don’t , then don’t.
If you are afraid, stay home. Remember , we all have to die of something and we don’t get to choose the way.
MikeM: Brilliant. Preventative medicine is useless to you, huh? How about polio, mumps, measles, hepatitis, meningitis and tetanus vaccines? Let the kids run loose and let the viruses pick ’em off. Why bother with preventable disease? We’re all gonna die anyway.
It is still a choice not a mandate. I have been vaxed for Covid. My choice.
I respect people’s right to refuse it. Besides the article is about nursing homes. That is the most susceptible place where people get sick. Maybe Canada would be more to your liking.
All this article does is sensationali!e a rise in Covid in the place most likely to see a rise in Covid. Non news.
Alex Daniels says
What’s funny is some of these homes have these pointless “kiosks” that annoy you as you enter yet prove to have zero effectiveness I. stopping the spread. I visited Flagler Health and Rehab they use some kiosk to measure temperature and ask a bunch of questions I think it’s called Repticity or something it literally does nothing except add frustration to visiting nothing can stop the spread except time.