JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – As the number of people getting vaccinated against COVID-19 declines, it appears some parents are also hesitant to get their children vaccinated if it’s authorized.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to authorize the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 12 to 15 by next week. Even if that occurs, the federally-supported vaccination site at Gateway Mall in Jacksonville -- the largest hub for vaccinations in Northeast Florida -- will not be giving Pfizer shots to 12- to 15-year-olds.
“We have been told by the state that we will not be doing the 12- to 15-year-olds, mainly because we are starting to wrap our program up here,” said Kimber Kipp, with the Gateway Mall site.
Tuesday was the last day the Gateway Mall site administered first doses of the two-shot Pfizer vaccine. The site will continue giving second doses of the Pfizer vaccine and will administer doses of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine through May 25, when the site is currently scheduled to close.
A recent poll shows that less than a third of parents say they will get their child vaccinated as soon as it’s authorized for their age group. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the poll shows about 29% of parents of children under age 18 say they will get their child vaccinated “right away” as soon as the child is eligible.
According to the poll, 32% say they’ll wait awhile to see how the vaccine is working before getting their child vaccinated, 15% say they will only get their child vaccinated if their school requires it and 19% say they definitely won’t get their child vaccinated.
It appears there’s also still vaccine hesitancy among adults in the Jacksonville area. Charlie McCormick just got vaccinated. He’s 67 and could have gotten his shot months ago but waited until Thursday.
“I’m pretty busy. I work a lot, but I figure in the future, you’re gonna need to travel and do other things,” he told News4Jax. “I just want to be protected and to protect others also.”
McCormick got his shot at the vaccination site at Edward Waters College, and there were not many people there. Mia Jones -- CEO of Agape Family Health, which is running the site -- said that right now, they are addressing the concerns of those who are leery of the shot.
“I think we have to wait our time. We have to make sure that we are here. We have to make sure that we are educating and we have to make sure that it’s available,” Jones said.
Jones said it’s not known when the EWC site will close.
“I don’t know, but I understand that Gateway is going to be closing up,” Jones said. “We do not have a date to close, and it’s my understanding that we are going to be here.”
As a way to fight vaccine hesitancy, the Florida Department of Health in Duval County and Indelible Solutions are hosting a vaccine and health fair from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at Master’s Touch Ministry at 4510 Soutel Drive.
The fair will offer Pfizer shots will include booths for health screenings. Those interested in receiving a free vaccine should register in advance at www.VAX904.com, but walk-ups will be welcomed based on pre-registrations.