TAMPA, Fla. – Florida parents hoping to vaccinate young children against COVID-19 are unsure where to turn because the state disagrees with the recent FDA recommendation that children six months and up be vaccinated and didn’t pre-order any doses.
Kim Pullen has a two-year-old child that she wants to get vaccinated, but when or by who remains up in the air.
“We have been waiting so long for this, and then to have one more roadblock thrown in our way,” she said.
The governor says that’s because health outcomes aren’t typically as bad for the youngest children, and because the state does not recommend COVID vaccines for the youngest kids, he doesn’t expect demand to be as high for vaccines as for adults.
“Doctors can get it. Hospitals can get it,” he said during a press conference on Thursday in Miami. “But there are not going to be any state programs that are going to be trying to get COVID jabs to infants and toddlers.”
So what’s a parent to do?
CVS pharmacy, which partners with the federal government, told Fox 13 it will be able to offer vaccines for those 18 months and older.
Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital said, “We are looking into other ways to provide the vaccine for this vulnerable age group as we wait for full authorization and recommendations at the federal level.”
But Carrollwood pediatrician David Berger says he expects delays given the state has not started the ordering process.
“The governor did say doctor’s offices will be able to get them, but not everybody can get an appointment with their doctor,” said Berger. “We don’t know if this just impacts health departments and public clinics. Does this impact pharmacies?”
Looking at a Kaiser Family Foundation poll taken May 4, demand appears to be relatively low, with only 18 percent of parents saying they’re planning to get their youngest vaccinated.
It may come down to individual doctors, with eager patients, to place orders.
“It’s not that it can’t get into the state of Florida, it’s just not something being officially ordered,” Berger stated. “Can the Federal government send it directly to pharmacies or to pediatricians? Not every dose has been done through the state purchasing system.”
It’s unclear as to how children under 18 months will be able to get vaccinated, as CVS has set an age limit of over 18 months and Walgreens has set one of three years of age.
Publix has not immediately responded to our request for comment.