Florida clinics experience delays for pediatric COVID-19 vaccine

Department of Health reported no preorders prior to vaccine release

Pediatrician, Annette Nielsen’s office, Tree House Pediatrics, is waiting for a shipment of 450 Moderna and Pfizer Covid-19 vaccines for children under 5.

ORLANDO, Fla. – The pediatric COVID-19 vaccine is now available to children younger than 5 years old, though the Florida Department of Health decided against preordering the vaccine due to current state health guidelines.

Pediatrician, Annette Nielsen’s office, Tree House Pediatrics, is waiting for a shipment of 450 Moderna and Pfizer Covid-19 vaccines for children under 5.

However, Nielsen said she’s been told by the Florida Shots system through where she ordered the vaccines that it will take somewhere between one-to-four weeks for her to receive the shots.

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Nielsen told News 6 that the delay is due to the state not having signed up for a pre-order of the Covid-19 vaccines.

“Florida chose as a state to not order these vaccines. It’s caused a great delay for individual pediatric offices and outpatient clinics such as family medicine doctors as well,” Nielsen said. “We’ve had over 400 deaths under the age of 5 years (in the U.S.) with COVID. Those are 400 parents that didn’t have Father’s Day. Well, what if we could’ve prevented that?”

The availability for that age group comes after an independent panel of advisers to the CDC voted to recommend vaccinating all children under 5 years of age and for infants as young as six months.

“If we can protect that whole swath of people, then we know moving forward into the fall when back to school happens, we’ll have a much healthier community,” the pediatrician said.

Two days after the CDC gave the green light for children ages 6 months through 4 years to receive the Pfizer vaccine and children ages 6 months through 5 years to receive the Moderna vaccine, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis addressed his decision not to pre-order the Covid-19 vaccines or offer them at state health departments.

“Yes, we didn’t. We recommend against it. We are not gonna have any programs where we’re trying to jab 6-month-old babies with MRNA,” DeSantis said while at a press conference outside a restaurant in northern Florida. “(Surgeon General) Joe Ladapo (and) our department of health has looked at it. There is no proven benefit to put a baby with an MRNA, so that’s why our recommendation is against it.”

Dr. Nielsen disagreed with the decision and noted that those with no experience in the medical field shouldn’t comment.

“Until you’ve walked in those shoes, stay in your own lane. Get out of mine. I just don’t want to see anyone be involved in pediatrics or in medicine unless that’s your job,” Nielsen said. “What we do know is that after looking at that study though the children that did participate in the vaccine had no significant ill effects or repercussions from the vaccine itself and they did do very well with the vaccine.”

Current Florida Department of Health guidelines recommend against healthy children receiving the vaccine due to potential complications, though the department stated that it may be a good idea for children with compromised immune systems.

Florida Department of Health Press Secretary Jeremy Redfern told News 6 that the department had no preorders in its system as of June 16.

“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,” Redfern stated.

Florida is the only state that did not pre-order Covid-19 vaccines for kids under 5 before the Food and Drug administration authorized them. With the new availability, this expands eligibility for vaccination to nearly 20 million additional children.

About the Author:

Carolina Cardona highlights all Central Florida has to offer in her stories on News 6 at Nine. She joined News 6 in June 2018 from the Telemundo station in Philadelphia.