The grocer does not offer vaccines for children under the age of 5


Publix is ​​silent on why it hasn’t started administering COVID-19 vaccines to children ages 4 and younger, according to news reports.

A spokesman for Lakeland-based Publix Super Markets Inc. told the Tampa Bay Times, “It will not ‘currently’ offer the vaccine approved for children under the age of 4.”

The Ledger reached out to Hannah Herring, Publix’s spokeswoman for North and Central Florida, but she didn’t immediately respond. She told the Times on Tuesday that “Publix will not release a statement explaining its decision.”

The grocer is still accepting COVID-19 vaccine appointments for children as young as 5, its website says.

Likewise: As the FDA approves infant COVID vaccines, Florida just won’t be able to pre-order supplies

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The company also offers other childhood vaccinations, including the flu shot for children 6 months and older.

“Parents can contact a state-qualified health center in their area to inquire about the availability of vaccines for children under age 5,” said Thresia Gambon, vice president of the Florida Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

“Parents may also want to check local pharmacies to see what is available. Some pharmacists can vaccinate children as young as 3 years old and older, and some pharmacies with clinics can vaccinate children as young as 18 months.”

Florida called out when the state failed to pre-order vaccines for younger children

When Florida did not preorder COVID-19 vaccines for children under age 5, the Florida Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a statement urging parents to explore other options for obtaining the vaccine, and “Gov. DeSantis to reconsider a decision that puts thousands of Florida infants, toddlers and young children at risk.

“Since the pandemic began, more than 30,000 children under the age of 5 have been hospitalized with COVID-19 and more than 500 in that age group have died,” the June 17 statement said.

“The vaccine is safe, effective and the best tool available to prevent serious diseases,” it said.

On March 8, Florida became the only state in the nation to issue official guidance advising against vaccinating “healthy” children against COVID-19. Now Florida is the only state in the nation that doesn’t preorder vaccines for children under the age of 5.

The COVID-19 vaccine distribution system is state-run and not designed to allow individual physicians or institutions to order directly from the manufacturer, the FCAAP said.

“Florida’s decision to delay making the vaccine available to children in Florida once it has been approved is contrary to scientific evidence and clinical experience,” the FCAAP said.

One place local parents can look for a vaccine is the Watson Clinic in Lakeland.

“The Watson Clinic will only offer the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine to patients between the ages of 6 months and 5 years,” said Jenny Baker, the clinic’s senior public relations and communications manager.

“If parents are interested in getting this vaccine for their child, they should speak directly to their pediatrician at their next scheduled appointment,” she said.

Walgreens stores are offering the COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 3 and up at select locations nationwide; said the company. Florida families can check availability on the company’s website to see if there is a location near them.

In an email, CVS Health said MinuteClinic sites will vaccinate from 18 months of age and CVS pharmacy sites will continue to vaccinate from 5 years of age.

The Cleveland Heights Pharmacy in Lakeland is not yet offering the vaccine for the youngest age group, it said.

Publix played a key role in Florida’s initial launch of adult vaccines in early 2021. The grocery chain stood alone as Florida’s largest vaccine supplier, receiving nearly a quarter of the state’s doses, according to a Times report.

The company is Florida’s largest private employer and a regular political campaign donor to both major political parties, with a majority going to Republicans.

It donated $100,000 to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ political committee in early 2021.

Publix’s website says it is the largest employee-owned company in the United States. The grocer has more than 230,000 employees and operates 1,297 stores in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia.

Liz Freeman of the Naples Daily News contributed to this report.

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