JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Experts said the COVID-19 vaccine for children under the age of 5 might not be available in Florida until next week.
Some states, including Georgia, started allowing doctors to place orders for COVID-19 vaccines for young children weeks ago.
Florida, however, started allowing doctors to place their orders on Friday.
Some doctors are worried the limited timeframe could mean delays in receiving the shots locally.
Small doses of Moderna and Pzifer COVID-19 vaccines were approved for kids as young as 6 months old.
UF Health Infectious Disease specialist Dr. Mobeen Rathore said the vaccines for children under 5 years old are safe and effective.
“We participated in the Moderna trials for the vaccine in young children, and we didn’t have any issues with that. That’s one of the reasons the vaccines got approved because there were no issues,” Rathore said. “Millions of doses have already been given. The parents should take comfort in that.”
Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried said the vaccines will be available at pediatricians’ offices, federally qualified health centers, and pharmacies, including major chains like Costco, CVS, Publix, Walgreens, Walmart and Winn-Dixie.
Fried suggests there’s going to be a slight delay in orders, but it is possible that some of the pharmacies may have the shots before the actual providers.
“The pharmacies may actually have it before the pediatricians’ offices because the pharmacies order directly through their headquarters, the pediatricians order it through the state. And the state had not pre-booked them,” Fried said.
Pharmacist Kevin Duane of Panama Pharmacy said they’re not ordering doses this time around for young kids. He says part of the reason is that pharmacists in Florida aren’t allowed to vaccinate kids under the age of 3.
“We did the ages five through 11. But we found that demand wasn’t very robust in our neighborhoods. So we ended up with some wastage. So we didn’t want to repeat that,” Duane said.
An April poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation found about a fifth of parents with a child under five want to vaccinate their child for COVID-19 right away, while more than a quarter say they definitely won’t.
Among the parents polled, 38% said they would wait and see about getting their young child vaccinated.
Tameka Williams planned on getting her daughter vaccinated.
“We had it while I was pregnant with her, so I would want her to be safe. I have the vaccine.”
However, parents like Cody Wohlfert are on the opposing side and chose not to get their children vaccinated.
“I don’t want the vaccine. I think what we want to go in our body should be our choice,” Wohlfert said.
Although the state declined to place early orders for the shots, doctors were able to start ordering on their own on Friday.
Dr. Rathore says he doubts the vaccine for children ages six months through 4 years old will be available this week. He suggests calling your pediatrician or local pharmacy to see when the vaccine might be available.