The Publix grocery chain, an early proponent of distributing COVID-19 vaccines when they became available, said “no thanks” to giving the jabs to small children. And it is not the only pharmacy group hesitant about injecting the new vaccine into young arms.
The Florida-based company said it will not offer the shots to children from 6 months to 4 years old “at this time.” No specific reason was given. Publix has almost 1,300 stores in the Southeast, and nearly two-thirds are in Florida.
The Food and Drug Administration approved vaccines for preschool-aged kids last week, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gave the go-ahead almost immediately. Doses of both Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are already being administered to those under 5.
Florida, however, is the only state not to pre-order the new vaccines.
This means the youngest children will not receive vaccines at county health departments. Instead, parents who choose to get the doses for their small kids need to utilize private health care providers.
The state is taking a different approach to injecting youngsters than most of the nation. State Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo recommended against vaccinating healthy children, which contrasts with CDC guidelines.
Florida’s COVID-19 vaccination rate for those 65 and over is 94%, which lines up with the rest of the country. Also like the rest of the nation,that rate declines with each age group. Only 24% of the 5-11 age group is immunized against coronavirus.
Publix is not the only pharmacy chain apparently hesitant to immunize the very young. Walgreens announced this week that it will provide the newly approved jabs for kids 3 and older, but not down to 6 months as the CDC recommends.
Polling data from a prominent health care organization shows parents of children under five are significantly hesitant to be first in line for the doses. Over 40% said they will either “absolutely not” have their child injected or will do so only if required.
President Joe Biden announced this week that the U.S. is the first nation to offer COVID-19 vaccines to the smallest children. Perhaps that’s not the sales pitch his speechwriters thought it was.