LAKELAND, Fla. – As Pfizer’s and Moderna’s lower-dose COVID-19 vaccines for children under 5 are rolled out across the U.S., Lakeland-based supermarket chain Publix confirmed this week that it is not administering the shots to that age group “at this time,” offering little explanation.
When asked by News 6 and Twitter users, Publix did not provide a reason for the decision, only saying the vaccine is not available for young children.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention over the weekend approved giving the shots to children as young as six months old, but Publix is far from the only major Florida pharmacy enrolled in the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program that is not currently giving COVID-19 vaccines to children that small. In fact, among the pharmacies to return inquiries from News 6, none of them are.
On Tuesday, CVS Health opened appointments for children 18 months through 4 years old, but for Publix, Sam’s Club, Walgreens, Walmart and Winn-Dixie, the latter four offer vaccinations for children only as young as 3 years old.
Publix is not administering the COVID vaccine to individuals under 5 years of age at this time. We suggest that— PublixHelps (@PublixHelps) June 21, 2022
customers speak with pediatrician’s
offices, community health centers,
children’s hospitals, and public health
clinics for availability at this time. --Cheyanne
As Publix suggested Tuesday in the above reply, those wishing to get a COVID-19 vaccine for a child younger than 5 years old could also look for participating community health centers on the official Health Resources and Services Administration website.
Florida lawmakers on Wednesday addressed a letter to Gov. Ron DeSantis and Florida Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo urging the governor’s administration and the state health department to “change course immediately” on their stance against helping distribute the lower-dose vaccines using state resources, as well as to cease spreading “disinformation about the safety and efficacy of vaccines, confusing parents and jeopardizing the health of their kids.”
Parents of young children have been eagerly awaiting this authorization, & the DeSantis Administration’s response to this recent advancement has caused unnecessary confusion among parents & providers & threatened the health of over one million kids across the state. pic.twitter.com/fJU5CnnIof— Rep. Lois Frankel (@RepLoisFrankel) June 22, 2022
A Florida Department of Health spokesperson told News 6 ahead of the rollout that doctors could still order the vaccines in spite of the state’s belief that “healthy children” may not benefit from it, pointing to the Florida Department of Health’s pediatric COVID-19 vaccine guidance.
However, the department in that document only recommended against vaccines for “healthy children aged 5 to 17.” As seen on the FDOH website, it has not yet made the same recommendation against the shots for children under 5: